Reasons to say ‘I do’ to weddings at home or in the back garden 

From micro nuptials to backyard celebrations to a marquee on the lawn, what's it like when couples bring it all back home? 
Reasons to say ‘I do’ to weddings at home or in the back garden 

The at-home/garden wedding of Carla Crerar and Hugh Higgins last summer.  Picture: House of Grá

Holding their wedding in their back garden “made their house a home” say Carla Crerar and Hugh Higgins.

The Dublin couple were married in 2020 and celebrated the occasion on home ground — literally.

Carla Crerar and Hugh Higgins were married by the bride's aunt Jacquie. 	Picture: House of Grá
Carla Crerar and Hugh Higgins were married by the bride's aunt Jacquie. Picture: House of Grá

Like so many brides and grooms due to exchange vows during the past 18 months, their nuptial plans were thrown into disarray. 

They had originally intended to the the knot on the August bank holiday weekend 2020 and hold their reception in Allta, the Dublin 2 restaurant where Hugh is the head chef, with around 50 guests.

But with the pandemic, this was not possible at the time. “So we said, let’s just hold it in the garden!” says Carla, a brand manager.

“And we did, we had the full ceremony in our back garden.”

Carla Crerar and Hugh Higgins. 	Picture: House of Grá
Carla Crerar and Hugh Higgins. Picture: House of Grá

While guest numbers were kept to the guideline minimum some guests had dual roles. “My aunt Jacquie Marsh was the celebrant and my best friend Gráinne Flanagan has a photography business, House of Grá, and she was our wedding photographer,” says Carla.

The at-home wedding of Carla Crerar and Hugh Higgins. 	Picture: House of Grá
The at-home wedding of Carla Crerar and Hugh Higgins. Picture: House of Grá

Dublin company Patsie & Co supplied the floral arrangements and the team at Allta set up barbecues and cooked food, including lobster and charcuterie, for the occasion.

The couple, who had been together for 11 years, say getting married in their Dublin 12 home felt very special. They had bought it just a year before and completed renovations on the property themselves.

Carla Crerar and Hugh Higgins. 	Picture: House of Grá
Carla Crerar and Hugh Higgins. Picture: House of Grá

It is a 1930s house and we took it apart and rebuilt it together the summer before — so to have our wedding in this house, that we have nearly built ourselves and made our own, it made the house so much more our home, it was just magical,” says the bride.

From micro weddings to flinging open the patio doors and hosting the shindig on the lawn, has the face of weddings changed forever?

Brides and grooms have been swift to adapt to the circumstances as Covid-19 restrictions meant their dates and guestlists were altered time and again.

	Picture: House of Grá
Picture: House of Grá

Likewise, for organisers. After launching her successful event management and design company during the global pandemic, Annie Dunne of A.D. Event Design (www.adeventdesign.com) knew big, bold nuptial do’s were off the agenda, with “intimate, special private moments coming to the forefront”.

So, Annie curated a menu of options for couture and bespoke weddings.

Does she think home and garden weddings are here to stay? 

“Yes, I think some couples really enjoy the freedom a small wedding offers,” says Annie.

“It allows them to be much more creative, invite the people they actually want to spend the day with and focus more on the experience rather than tradition.

“I have produced a good few ‘at home’ weddings, both in Ireland and London, and I have to say they are always so special. There is something so lovely about getting married at home and creating a day that is bespoke to the couple.”

Annie’s key piece of advice if you are organising your wedding in your garden or at home? 

Always have a wet weather back-up plan!” she says.

I like Annie’s idea of making life as simple as possible for yourself if you’re a bride or groom marshalling your dreams along with your to-do lists: “Keep things flowing and easy for yourself by having separate areas for each part of the day,” says Annie. 

“You should enjoy your day and not have to worry about moving tables or chairs after dinner for dancing.

Carla Crerar and Hugh Higgins. 	Picture: House of Grá
Carla Crerar and Hugh Higgins. Picture: House of Grá

“Organise contract cleaners to arrive after the wedding is finished. You don’t want to be looking at empty glasses the next day nor do you want to be tidying them away.

“Make sure your kitchen is set up for catering and if not then hire in additional equipment prior to your wedding.”

Annie Dunne of AD Event Design.
Annie Dunne of AD Event Design.

Does Annie, who previously worked in fashion, have nuggets of wisdom on tablescaping for home or garden wedding staging?

“Covid allowing, I would suggest using a long banquet table instead of round tables,” she says. 

“It creates a much more dramatic effect and is also easier for guests to chat to the person across from and next to them. I would also recommend using low floral arrangements and candles of varying heights to add depth to the tablescape.”

Tablescaping by Annie Dunne of AD Event Design.
Tablescaping by Annie Dunne of AD Event Design.

Professional wedding planner Tara Fay (www.tarafayevents.ie) says home weddings have always been popular but “for a time they went slightly out of fashion when new private venues opened”. 

“They are becoming more popular as wedding timelines have reduced in the past 16 months as you have much more flexibility with timelines at home,” she tells me.

Backyard or marquee weddings are a firm favourite with Tara. “Marquee weddings are something we have specialised in for many years, from micro ones for 10 people up to larger ones for over 400 guests. I personally love a marquee or home wedding as they are so personal regardless of size,” she says.

It is really important for couples to be realistic about expectations for a wedding at home. Staff still have to work as if they are in a venue and the same guidelines apply.”

So, what is Tara’s key piece of advice when organising your back-garden nuptial celebration?

Tara Fay at a pre-pandemic outdoor wedding. 	Picture: Doreen Kilfeather 
Tara Fay at a pre-pandemic outdoor wedding. Picture: Doreen Kilfeather 

“If you are having a garden or home wedding, it is the perfect time to engage the help of a professional — either a planner who can help you from the start or someone who can swoop in for the final weeks.”

Four key practical considerations should be front and fore when planning your celebration at home, according to wedding organiser Stephen Neary of Eloping in Ireland (info@elopinginireland.ie).

“It’s highly advisable to hire a wedding planner to co-ordinate everything on the day so the couple don’t have to deal with any last-minute issues and can enjoy a stress-free day.”

Stephen advises couples to take into account the neighbours, toilet facilities, insurance, and marriage paperwork. 

The neighbours (whether they are invited or not) should be made aware of the upcoming wedding well in advance,” says Stephen.

“Couples should consider inviting them to the afters or giving them a small gift when notifying them of the wedding. There will be noise (from music and people) until late the night of the wedding so it’s only fair the neighbours have time to plan for or around this.

“Toilets: depending on the number of guests not many houses have the appropriate toilet facilities for a large number of people. Couples should consider renting some high-end toilets.

“Insurance: I would recommend couples check with their home insurance provider to ensure their policy covers them for a home wedding.

As for marriage paperwork? “Whilst the wedding ceremony and reception can take place at home it’s unlikely the actual legal marriage signing can take place there,” says Stephen. “This might have to take place at a registered venue on the same day or a few days before or after the wedding.”

  

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