Home weddings require planning

Sunday, November 2, 2003

Saying "I do" before assembled relatives and friends is a thrill for any bride or groom. And increasingly couples are opting to recite their vows in their own home or in the home of parents or friends. At-home ceremonies offer charm and intimacy for small- to medium-size gatherings.

But there's more -- a lot more -- to home weddings than opening the front door and seating guests on folding chairs.

"There's an enormous amount of preparation involved in a home wedding," says Joslyn Dusablon of The Home Service Store. "It doesn't have to be terribly expensive, you just need to plan how the home will handle visitors. What works for weddings applies to other events such as anniversaries, retirements, club events or reunions."

Minimum planning time is 60 days. Dusablon suggests the bride, groom and owners of the home walk the exterior and interior to make notes on safety, appearance and function.

Plan for your guests' safety. Repair sidewalk and driveway cracks or crumbled sections. Add solar lights or luminaries along sidewalks and aisles if the ceremony is outside. Tighten and secure railings.

"Inside, transition thresholds between different flooring, such as from carpet to tile, will reduce the chance of accidental falls," says Dusablon. Consider adding ramps for guests that might have trouble navigating steps. Brighter bulbs in lamps and fixtures are a must. Place your pets at a kennel during the event.

Finishing touches inside

Of course, the home must look its best. Power-wash windows, siding and driveways. Hire lawn professionals to fertilize grass and eliminate weeds. Touch up landscaping with fresh mulch and potted flowers or plantings timed to bloom for the ceremony. Trim shrubs or trees that block or overhang walkways. Have gutters cleaned, or if necessary, replaced.

Clean interior carpets and seal against stains. Walls and wood trim should be repainted with easy cleaning semi-gloss paint. Have heating and cooling systems checked to ensure the units will function for the big event. Adding window treatments also creates a nice finishing touch.

For the homeowner who will use this event as an excuse to tackle larger home improvements, Dusablon suggests concentrating on projects with the greatest impact on the event itself. This includes replacing siding, windows or doors, roofing or fencing to create a fresh look for the guests and provide a scenic backdrop for wedding photos. The addition or replacement of decks or sun rooms could play a pivotal role in where to hold the ceremony or reception.

If there is inclement weather, a homeowner might want to consider the availability of interior space.

A quick and easy way to increase this space is to finish the basement with a basement finishing system that can be installed in days.

"You'll need to give considerable attention to traffic flow and where guests will spend most of their time," says Dusablon. Guide guests into the home with decorative roping or potted plants. Store furniture that won't be used to make way for rental tables and chairs. Cordon off stairs or portions of the home that are off limits to guests. Make at least two bathrooms available and decorate them with fresh flowers and sachets. New faucets or hardware are a pleasant touch

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