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Ideas for Hosting a Cozy At-Home Wedding This Autumn

Autumn Home Wedding

“Hhhmmm…is an at-home wedding for me?” If you’re asking this question, then there is a side of you that is definitely keeping this option open. If you are lucky enough to live in a place with ample space for 30 to 40 people, then perhaps a fall celebration right where you grew up could be the most memorable, fun, and romantic way to tie the knot! But before you jump into the idea of an at-home wedding, let our creative tips help you through the planning process with your bridal sanity intact.

Go Outdoors? Stay Indoors?

For a fall wedding, an outdoor garden surrounded by beautiful, sprawling scenery would be fabulous. If your home happens to have such a garden-with-a-view, then you must make the most of it for your party venue. However, even a smaller garden (minus the view) could be just as lovely this time of year—as long as it’s large enough to accommodate your expected guests.

You could also opt for a semi-outdoor party venue. Does your home happen to have a roofed veranda, porch, or wooden deck? These would make wonderful locations as well, as they still allow you to enjoy the best of the season.

An indoor party venue may prove a bit more challenging. Does your home have a large enough living room or family room for guests to mingle comfortably, and for food and drinks to be served easily? If so, then simply deck out the room in autumn’s colors and candle centerpieces to create the most welcoming, cozy atmosphere possible.

Party Planning Tip:

Inquire at your city hall what local ordinances have to say about parking on your street. In some neighborhoods, you may have to obtain a city permit in order to have your whole block reserved for guest parking. You wouldn’t want your guests to leave with a parking ticket as a “memento” from the city!

Set Out “Welcome to Our Home!” Decorations

Sofa outside guest patio
A rustic autumn wreath and a trayful of candles spelling out a welcome make wonderful decorative touches for your at-home wedding party.

As warm as a welcoming hug—that’s the atmosphere you can create for your guests from the moment they arrive at your home. Use decorations that capture the charm of nature in the fall, and are eco-friendly besides! Here, we’ve hand crafted a welcome wreath made of leaves and twigs and paired it with a quaint candle display on a bamboo tray. Positioned on a bench with throw pillows at the entrance to the party—or along the pathway leading to the garden venue—these decor touches immediately set a homey ambiance for this most special occasion.

Party Planning Tip:

You may also want to display pumpkins in various sizes, shapely gourds, and other fall-like décor elements. Look for such items in your local farmer’s market, neighborhood craft store, or even in your local grocery.

To Cook or to Cater?

You certainly do want to enjoy your celebration. So, consider factoring in the cost of hiring caterers or even bartenders as part of the budget. You may also opt for a hybrid approach, consisting of cooking some dishes at home, while having the main entrees provided by a caterer. Main dishes you may wish to order could be prime rib, roast turkey, or grilled salmon, which may be too much of a challenge for your home kitchen—considering the number of guests to be served. Ask the caterer about providing the appropriate side dishes, sauces, and garnishes as well.

Also remember that some restaurants offer entire party meals for delivery to the venue on the day of the event. So if you want to have a family-style arrangement, you can contact your favorite Italian, Mexican, or Chinese restaurant and order a complete party menu. These can be served up buffet style for a more informal and economical wedding party meal.

Party Planning Tip:

If your event will have less than 30 people, then another budget-friendly option is to forego a sit-down dinner altogether. More casual arrangements such as a fondue party, wine and cheese reception, afternoon tea party, or tapas party would be just perfect for an at-home celebration.

Wedding Cake Alternatives

Consider creative alternatives to the traditional wedding cake as well. If you have a limited budget and limited time, creating your own wedding cake may not be practical. So you may want to explore some easy-to-serve, but just as delectable options. You could set up a dessert station where guests may serve themselves—choosing from different sweet treats, ranging from cupcakes to cookies to ice cream. Or you could prepare enticing pie carousels, serving up 4 or 5 different pie choices—such as apple, pumpkin, strawberry, blueberry, and chocolate mousse cream pie!

Then, lest you miss out on the thrill of an actual wedding cake, have a mini version created just for the two of you. Have this “couple’s wedding cake,” consisting of 4 to 6 slices, decorated to match your wedding motif just like a full-sized version.

Party Planning Tip:

For a truly sweet sensation that is both simple and fun for everyone, you may want to have a candy stand that serves up childhood favorites ranging from candy apples to caramel popcorn to s’mores.

Hassle-free Drinks Options

Wine decanter on wooden tray

Plan ahead for hassle-free drinks options that allow you to enjoy your own wedding party! Purchase beverages in bulk, consider hiring a bartender, and have attendants to see to your guests’ drink requests.

With so much already happening at your home, anything to ease the party process would be most welcome! As early as choosing what drinks to serve, it is wise to consider purchasing these in bulk. Items such as wine, beer or soda can be bought from “warehouse stores” or wholesale stores that also cater to retail consumers. Hiring a professional bartender could also be one expense well worth it. Or at least assigning beverage attendants to attend to drink requests, serve up refills, keep the ice bucket and garnish trays well stocked, and even collect used glasses to keep your home free from party clutter!

Party Planning Tip:

If hiring a bartender is too costly, consider setting up a drinks station for guests that serves up a variety of beverages. Just be sure to include a balanced amount of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, which will ensure that you can stay within your budget.

Table and Chair Rentals

You will definitely need to augment your home furniture for this event. But since cost could be an issue here, be sure to inquire how table and chair rentals are structured. Is it by the hour or by the day? Also, if you have a guest list of 40, you may want to consider two long tables that accommodate 20 people per table rather than renting 4 to 5 round tables. Borrowing is also a great option! Consider asking friends who may have tables that you can use for the day. This money-saving option spares you the higher cost of table rentals. So all you’ll have to worry about are the chairs.

Downloadable checklist for an autumn at-home wedding:

Use this handy checklist to start off your party planning. Good luck!

Party checklist for at-home weddings

Download Party Checklist for a Fall At-Home Wedding – PDF

Seasonal Table Decorations

Palette of hues with rustic elements like bark and twine
Who doesn’t love the colors and textures of fall? Play them up with a color palette of rich, warm earth tones highlighted with gold, and organic accents of leaves, bark, and twine.

Once the basic logistics have been attended to, you now come to styling your at-home party. Lucky for you the autumn season itself provides a wealth of decor ideas—from materials to colors to textures, even to scents. Choose bold, rich hues of fall such as burnt orange, burgundy, brown, and olive green to set the mood in the form of table cloths, runners, napkins, pillow covers, throws, and rugs. Then, bring in brilliant highlights through gold accents used to hold menu cards, place cards, or table numbers.

Use fruits such as luscious apples, persimmons, and berries, or even vegetables like artichokes to create striking centerpieces or even serve as charming place card holders. And incorporate leaves, twigs, nuts, and gourds as table accents for that rustic, organic texture without straining your budget.

Then, of course, there must be that special autumn-inspired romance. Fill the air with the fragrance of fresh flowers in season—lush arrangements of hyacinths, mini calla lilies, or chrysanthemums or a single rose at each place setting. Or for something more exotic, add pine tree cuttings, sprigs of eucalyptus, or sticks of aromatic cinnamon. And of course, do infuse light up candelight in any form, for that irresistible golden glow!

Party Planning Tip:

Adding natural décor objects such as fruits, vegetables, fall foliage, and other similar items can be a true money-saving option, since they allow you to minimize the use of adding flowers. They also add color and texture instantly to your table decorations and bring in the dynamic beauty of the season.

Homemade and Heartfelt Gifts to Give

Mementos for guests
Perfect favors for this at-home occasion? Heart-shaped lidded boxes filled with chocolates and other goodies. Or unique rustic-style napkin rings made of raffia presented in daintily embroidered bags.

Continue the “welcome to our home” approach to this celebration by giving guest favors that are homemade and heartfelt. For instance, prepare a custom trail mix of chocolates, candies, and nuts, peanut brittle, snickerdoodles, or chocolatey brownie bites! Or scoop pine-, eucalyptus, or floral-scented potpourri. For something nostalgic, bundle up candied apples (see our how-to article on this) or present a memorable photo or a romantic quote inspired by the season.

Recipes on the Web:

Want to create your own homemade treats? Here are some recipe links that you may want to try out:

  1. Brownie Bites – from foodandwine.com
  2. Custom Trail Mix – from slashfood.com
  3. Maple Syrup Cookies – from allrecipes.com
  4. Peanut Brittle – from joyofbaking.com
  5. Snickerdoodles – from bettycrocker.com

Party Planning Tip:

Making homemade treats not only saves your budget, but it is also a great way to give guests something that doesn’t appear generic. Tasty creations such as peanut brittle can be turned into thoughtful favors by simply making the packaging and presentation of the favor both tasteful and elegant.

Gracious Gestures for Out-of-town Guests

If relatives or close friends will be coming over for the occasion, make them feel right at home with a welcome basket of treats. Among these may be goodies baked right in your kitchen or delicacies your area is known for, a guidebook to sites they can visit, plus a warm, woolen muffler to keep out that autumn chill. For special family members such as you and your spouse’s mothers and grandmothers, you could gift them with a dressy shawl as the perfect accessory for the wedding day itself.

One comment

  1. I love the rustic look for this home wedding party idea. For my own wedding, I plan to have it done the same way, but the ceremony will be in another location at our church. I thought of combining the reception and ceremony at our church, but decided that having the reception at my parents home would be better because guests can then relax and mingle more. Since it is only a wedding party of 25 people, this works out well. Plus, many guests plan on staying at my parent’s house anyways. I guess this arrangement has helped me keep my wedding budget below $5000! Thanks to my parents!

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