“Mom, dad, I’m getting married!” After that happy announcement comes, the first of many hard decisions will follow. Choosing the right place to get married is at the top of the list. There certainly are plenty of venues available such as churches, event pavilions, and hotels. But many couples are married at home to save money. It may seem like a logical choice for keeping things simple, but Tampa veteran wedding planner Sarah Fairbairn of One Fine Day, Inc. says there’s a lot to consider before making the decision to have a wedding at home. A wedding is always a time of joy, but brings a certain amount of expense. Bringing a wedding planner into the process may be a good idea regardless of whether the event will be at home or in a dedicated facility. Fairbairn points out that the choice should be made on convenience and suitability of a home, because there often aren’t any cost savings to be had. “The money that you would pay a place to rent the space is almost the same as what it costs to rent the table, chairs, dance floor–all those things. Oftentimes at home, you have to add on the cost of the tent.” Going with a dedicated facility, even for an outdoor wedding, means there can be a backup plan for an indoor event in case bad weather moves in,” Fairbairn adds.

(credit: Mike Hennessy)

Money issues aside, there is the question of stress. The planning process can leave even the most organized bride-to-be and her helpers frazzled, potentially spoiling what should be a joyous day. Staging a wedding inside a house can add another layer to the planning process and is a decision that should only be made after careful consideration.

Getting Help

Putting on a wedding is a huge undertaking, and it’s not something a bride or her parents may want to try on their own. Wedding consultants and event planners are plentiful and can help ease the stress of putting on a fun and beautiful wedding. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but when the realities of how many details have to be addressed, calling in expert help may seem like money well spent. Fairbairn says a lot of her clients come to her with the idea that a home wedding will help them save money, but that’s not always the case. “Essentially, everything that we need for the wedding we’d have to rent and bring in. A home wedding can often be a lot more expensive than going to a reception location where they have those things already.” Fairbairn points out that country clubs, hotels, or event pavilions offer the convenience of one price for as many (or as few amenities) as a client wants. For example, an outside wedding generally means the expense of renting a tent. That in turn leads to the choice of whether to add a floor to the tent instead of having guests standing on bare ground. “Once you decide to add flooring into a tent you’re looking usually at anywhere from  $8,000 to $10,000, sometimes more depending on the size of the tent.”


The size of the venue and the size of the wedding have to match up, or else the stage is set for disaster. Fairbairn says there is no set formula for deciding how many people a house and lot of any given size can handle. That’s where an expert can be a huge help. “It’s something that’s more visual. Every house is laid out differently and every garden or lawn area is different. Some have trees, some don’t. Just because you have so many square feet doesn’t mean you can do anything you want. Inside the house, sometimes there’s open floor plans, sometimes there’s not.”


Feeding attendees is an obvious expense, but Fairbairn says it doesn’t have to be a major expense. Catering is another place in which hiring a wedding planner can pay off, since in some cases a planner can get special rates from vendors that can save a considerable amount of money. “There’s plenty of vendors that work with me that offer my clients 10 percent off because they like working with me.”

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Mike Hennessy is a veteran news man who has won Florida AP awards for feature reporting and covered almost every kind of story imaginable from on-the-scene coverage of Hurricane Andrew, to some of the highest profile murder and corruption trials in Florida history. Mike is versatile and has the curiosity it takes to get to the bottom line of any story. His work can be found at Examiner.com.


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