Two years ago IT Genie married Company and formed GenCo and they did so in my backyard. I wrote many articles about that experience and all that it entailed. I wrote about the organizational chaos and having strangers wander indiscriminately about my home. I wrote about my crew, my go-to-guys that were all they could be and I’m sure I mentioned how Honey’s fell short. I wrote about Mother Nature and her friend Murphy as they did what they could to sabotage the whole event. I tried to present the situation for what it was, and poke fun at how totally out-of-control it all appeared to be. My writings were meant to help others that might choose the same path as I did and warn them of the many pitfalls. They were also meant to discourage people from agreeing to hold such an event at their home.
My friends, Ginger and The Earl, have chosen to ignore these warnings and our hosting their daughter’s wedding at their home this coming summer (Which just goes to show the influence this blog has over people). Now I could say many things about this decision but what’s done is done and there is no point in bringing into question people’s sanity. So to further assist my friends and any other’s that find themselves in this position, I have come up with five tips that might be of assistance.
Tip #1- When preparing a yard for an event where there will be tables you should avoid using the terms ‘flat surface’ or ‘even area’ and forget about ‘level spot’ when you are deciding where to put them. I don’t care how much equipment you’ve got you will not find one! Even a perfectly manicured golf course has angles and undulations! The Earth doesn’t do flat!! It’s ROUND!!! The trick is to level the tables. Use tables with legs that can be driven into the ground a few millimeters as needed. Avoid using bench style tables with low cross beams.
The chairs should be chosen using the same principal of leveling by digging the legs in with one exception; a low cross beam is good. This will stop the legs from going into the ground too far and save Uncle Simon from toppling over backwards when his 300 lbs. ass hits the chair.
Tip #2- When choosing the seating arrangement pay attention to the sun, if you are fortunate to have a sunny day for the wedding, have an idea of where it will be when the time comes for people to speak. If you sit grandma in a spot where the sun blinds her just when her granddaughter is about speak, you are never going to hear the end of it! I don’t care how nice granny is about it at the time… she’s going to be pissed!! Also keep the sun in mind when choosing where the Head Table will be. Will the sun cause people to be unable to see the couple? Will the sun beat down on the bride turning her into a sweaty puddle of lace that everyone wants to hug? These are things that should be considered with an outdoor wedding. You plan the entire event hoping for the finest of weather conditions so don’t forget the sun.
Tip #3- Have a potty plan. People drink, people need to relieve themselves. You may be thinking that using your home powder room will suffice and it might if you have only 30 people coming, but what are the odds? Do you really want people milling about your house while they wait to use the loo? I rented two portable toilets that I built a pad in the back corner of the yard to accommodate. Those things must be level and require shimming so that they are. Remember that this party will go well into the night and having a place outside your home for guests to use will save the ‘best man’ from rushing into your en-suite to lose his lunch at 3 am. You can always take the garden hose to a plastic toilet stall. Also make sure there is an easy path to the port-a-potty and tell the guests of its existence. Doing this will not stop people from wandering into your home but it will stem the flow.
Tip #4- Hide the good booze. You should probably hide anything of value. Even though 80% of the people coming to your soiree have probably been in your home that was always with supervision, why leave a temptation lying around in the open. The reason for the booze hiding is two-fold, the first is the obvious, people are going to swill the liquor and you don’t need to go bankrupt allowing them to do so. Cheap scotch tastes the same as good stuff after the first two drinks and you can bet this lot is not stopping at two! The second reason is to allow the host to show special favour to certain guests. Having a drink from The Earl’s private stock gives the invitee a feeling of special status and won’t cost The Earl a penny to do so. It may seem like a meaningless gesture to some but if you have seen the Godfather, lots of things happen over a private drink at a wedding.
Tip #5- Plan your night lighting to reduce your space as the evening goes on. Basically you are corralling the guests into a smaller area as it gets darker. You should keep in mind that many guests will leave as the day wanes. The first to go are the 70 year-olds and with them the 60 year-olds that brought them. They will be there, and then in a flash they will be gone. The 40-60 year-olds with leave in smaller groups and by the time lights will be needed to see with, the crowd will be reduced by two-thirds. Left will be the friends of the couple and maybe a few friends of the parents on both sides. You only require two well lit areas at this point; a condensed seating area and the route to the toilet (don’t forget what’s going to happen to the best man around 3). You don’t need to have the entire area that you started the day with lit. Electrical extension cords can be buried an inch under the ground to bring power to the area and are virtually unnoticeable. Although using candlelight is very romantic, restrict the use to table decoration only. Mother Nature can be a heavy breather even on a nice day and it would be a shame to have to replace the roof of your house after the fire is put out.
There are many other tips I could give to people planning outdoor events; clearly mark any hazards like ditches and gullies on your property that people might stumble into, don’t tell people to “help themselves” if you don’t mean it, have a crew of friends or family that you can call on in a moment to help where needed, make sure you have a foul weather emergency plan and cross your fingers you won’t need it. There are so many small things that need to be thought of in advance and dealt with during the actual event that the best any one that sees fit to host a wedding at their home can expect is to be ready for the unexpected.
So to The Earl and Ginger, I wish to say this. Over the next few months there will be stress and this will lead to hair pulling frustration on somebody’s part (not necessarily yours). There will be times when the actual image of what you are trying to accomplish will not match the mental one and no matter what you try you just can’t get them to line up. There may be times when you question your sanity or that of those around you; “What was I thinking to agree to this?” or “What do you mean you want to ride in on horses through the wedding guests??” Anything can happen when you allow so many people into your home at one time but I know that you, like me, would have it no other way no matter what we may say aloud to the contrary. Having someone you love want to share her special day in the intimate surrounding of her family home is something you were never going to say no to and I can tell you that when it is over you will never regret having done it and it will become one of your dearest memories. The one that you will one day tell your grandchildren about and when they ask why their parents didn’t get married on the beach you own in the Dominican Republic (I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it), you will tell them because this is a special place where special days happen… this is home.
To the soon to be dubbed Doctor Duo; Although we have never met, Honey and I both wish to extend our congratulations and best wishes for your future together. Life is never an easy road but it is easier when you have someone to share it with, and we are happy that you have both found that someone.