To make a wedding more personal, many couples opt to tie the knot at home — their own home or that of a relative or friend. There are plenty of creative ways to make the big event homey, fun and beautiful.
And with some careful thought and planning, you can save a lot of money in the process.
The essential thing when planning a DIY wedding at home is to plan as far ahead as possible and carefully consider the whole picture before definitely opting to do it all at home, says Brigitt Earley, senior editor at Real Simple magazine.
"Always consider all of the numbers. Sometimes it seems like it will be less expensive to host your wedding at home, but your home is a blank canvas and you often have to bring in a lot of items — table and chair rentals, extra bathrooms, kitchen equipment . These costs can add up to more than the fee of renting out a more traditional venue," she warns.
"Also, consider things like space constraints, landscaping and parking."
If a home wedding still seems the way to go, think about where to save and where to splurge, Earley says.
"Bathrooms may not sound all that glamorous, but you'll want to consider splurging on a fancy bathroom trailer if your home only has one accessible bathroom. You don't want guests waiting in line all night, but even worse: You could encounter problems if you overload your home's plumbing system," she says.
Make sure your home's electrical system can accommodate all the power needed to run extra kitchen equipment and lighting. Earley suggests getting a professional opinion, and considering bringing in a generator.
"Don't forget to check with the town: Some areas require permits, or have noise ordinances you'll want to be aware of well in advance of the big day," she adds.
The good news is that once the practical nuts and bolts like power, permits, space constraints and bathrooms have been dealt with, you can focus on inspiring decor, flowers and gifts.
"To save, play up your home's natural features," Earley says. "There's probably a reason you chose your home for your wedding. Is it the beautiful wraparound porch? Or the sea view? Rather than splurge on expensive extras like flowers, make sure what's already there looks its best."
As for flowers, get creative.
"You don't need a ton of flowers to make a beautiful arrangement," says Alethea Harampolis, co-author with Stefani Bittner of "Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants" (Ten Speed Press). "Just three nice branches, like blossoming apple or plum, in a bowl can be stunning."
They suggest dozens of homespun projects easily adapted for eye-catching wedding decor, guest gifts, cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. There are facial creams and scrubs, or naturally dyed gifts, wreaths and garlands for decor, and flower-pressed cheese resembling tiny wedding cakes for the buffet table. For those in search of something blue to complete the event: champagne garnished with borage petals.
Another way to add pizazz to a home wedding? Sara Bliss, author of "Hotel Chic at Home" (The Monicelli Press), suggests "lining up lanterns with tiny candles inside to make everything look magic, especially at night.. A row of lanterns along walkways or at entrances, or even along tables as a centerpiece, really sets the mood."
Bliss also recommends adding blankets and poufs with bling, colorful tents or cabanas in the yard, and, for indoors, painting a wall or two in a bold color and being generous with mirrors and candles.
Don't forget to place scented soaps — and maybe even a chandelier — in the powder room.
"Fragrant little soaps or an unexpected light fixture instantly make a bathroom more glamorous," Bliss says.
And as Bittner points out, think about scents as you put everything together.
"So many scents are very emotive. Many people think of scented geraniums or other scents when they think of their grandmother or another person. They evoke memories," she says. "One place to start is to think of scents that have personal meaning, and go from there."
Part of the beauty of a DIY home wedding, she says, is being able to make the wedding that much more personal and unique.