Is there anything more personable and intimate than an event at a private residence? Weddings are romantic and corporate events are casual--there’s just something friendly about having an event at a private home.
Planning private-residence events can be just as fun, especially when they’re outdoors. It’s essentially like creating a new venue every time! As you work from a blank canvas, there are a number of considerations that you’ll have to keep in mind since the site is not as well established as a pre-existing venue.
Chances are you’ll need some electricity to light up the place. Take a hard look at the logistics--will you need a generator on-site? If so, where can you place it that it won’t be heard? How many circuits and amps are there? Be sure to check out where the circuit box is, just in case something blows. It’s also best to check in with all of the vendors’ power needs--the band/DJ, caterer, lighting specialist, and photo booth all may have different requirements, so it’s important to have an idea of who needs what.
My best advice is to always rent portable restrooms. Home plumbing is a solid backup, but it’s typically not something that can simply support a group of 100 or more guests. With that said, you’ll need to determine what the water and electrical needs of the portable restrooms need to run properly.
Drainage and Water
Check on all of the paths and spaces that guests will be using, from the ceremony to the reception to the restrooms. Ensure that they’ll be clear for guests, as well as for trucks coming in for deliveries. If the lawn needs to be mowed, make sure it happens a few days prior to the event day.
Finding just the right spot for a tent or event space means ensuring that the yard is level and there’s enough room for deliveries to be made. You’ll also want to look at what’s in bloom for the season and see if there are any precautions needed to prevent bees. Also, make sure that the homeowner is aware that the grass will be affected by foot traffic--it’s essentially unavoidable!
There are two main options for catering at a private residence--either the caterer will use the indoor kitchen or you’ll need to allocate a space for them to create a makeshift kitchen from scratch. If you’re opting for the latter, you’ll need to figure out what appliances need to be brought in and where the kitchen will be located. You’ll also need to have a good idea of where the trash, compost and recycling will go throughout and at the end of the event.
The weather is one of the biggest risks when planning an outdoor wedding, and can require more planning when it’s at a private residence. If it rains, will the rain make it into the tent or will everyone stay dry under cover? Rain isn’t the only issue though – take a look at where the sun will be at the time of ceremony and reception. Will guests need some shade to keep them cool? If it will be chilly, will you need to get heaters for the space? More than anything, it’s imperative that you keep the elements in mind as you plan!
Parking may or may not be an issue, depending on the setup of the event space. Determine whether or not you’ll need a valet, especially if the event will have a sizable number of guests. While you’re at it, be sure to let any neighbors know of the impending plans so they’re not caught off-guard by a lot of visitors in the area.
These considerations should point you in the right direction, but keep in mind that every location is different. The best thing you can do is to stay open to questions, comments and concerns from the other vendors on the event team. If you create a welcome environment for them to address their concerns, the group will be more likely to think as a team!
Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Tailored Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners to grow and improve upon their skills.