This one is for the homebodies. The ‘that’s nice but I’d rather be at home’-ers. The ones that thrive and bask and relish in all the warm comforts of home. Maybe this was the place you grew up, maybe it will be the home you share with your partner, maybe it’s the most stunning place in the world and why would you get married anywhere else, or maybe you’ve just got a slightly weird ‘once a homebody’ tattoo on your left boob that you’d rather not have to justify. Whatever your reason, getting married at home is an incredibly personal, special and intimate way to begin the first moments of your marriage and add a whole new layer of meaningful to your day. Plus, throw in a few tipis and fairy lights to glam up your backyard? Don’t threaten us with a good time.
So, whether you’re doing it to be surrounded by your comfort place or because you just don’t want to stray too far from your snack drawer – we’re here for it. And we raise you the step-by-step’s to how to plan a home wedding in NZ. We’re talking:
- Venue planning
- Guest management
- Builds, plans and itinerary
- Decorating your space
- Sussing your non-negotiables
- Food & Drink catering
- Music & Entertainment options
- Bad weather contingency plans
Let’s crack in.
The first thing to do when planning a wedding is to figure out how to maximise the space you’ve got. Think about where you want your ceremony, your reception, your dance floor and your canapes. Good news is, you know your house better than anyone, so identifying key areas should be a breeze. Bad news is, there probably haven’t been many giant tipis in your backyard before – but lucky for you, we know our tipis better than anyone. So if you need a hand, our team is always happy to do a site visit and suggest how the day could work and flow – including helping you decide the best number of tipis to fit you, your guests and your space.
Next, think about the distance from a power source, parking for caterers, loos, and how accessible your various ‘zones’ will be to your guests. Don’t forget about guest parking arrangements, too – might be worth dropping not-so-subtle hints to Barb and Marge to take the bus if they want to avoid fights in the carpark.
Outside of the friendly parking lot brawls, this also means writing your wedding guest list, organising an RSVP system, and managing your guests on the day. While on one hand, having a home wedding in Wānaka or Queenstown means you can be a lot more relaxed about the whole affair (of course your cousin’s hairdresser can come, there’s plenty of sausies on the barby) – don’t get too liberal, because costs add up quick. Each person needs food and drinks, so the more guests you invite, the bigger your budget will need to be. Sorry, Stacie.
Builds, plans and itinerary
One good thing about having a tipi wedding at home is that you’ll be around when we come to build the tipis, usually a day or two before the big event. This allows you to play around with the space, get a feel for the tipis, and start planning the nuts and bolts of your day around them. On that note, if you’re planning a wedding at home, a checklist will never go astray. Or, consider reaching out to professional wedding planners like Alexandra Kate Creative, Tregold, or Fantail Weddings for guidance.
When it comes to your on-the-day itinerary, the beauty of a home wedding means you make the rules. Forget the traditional 3pm ceremony if that’s not your scene – have your wedding over brunch if you’d rather chase it down with a champagne breakfast. Or tie the knot as the sun goes down, then party the night away with zero curfew, baby. And honestly, why stop there? You could always extend the hire for a day or two, and invite your nearest and dearest back around for a recap-and-recovery party over chicken and buns. The world is your oyster.
Decorating Your Space
Not to toot our own horn, but a tipi is kind of the perfect way to create a cosy and intimate setting for your special day. With their natural aesthetic and warm lighting, tipis immediately evoke a feeling of comfort and togetherness that matches your home setting. To ramp up the ambiance even more, throw in a few rustic and earthy décor elements such as wine barrels, Moroccan pouffes, Kilim rugs or fire bowls. Conveniently, we offer all that right here.
For a more relaxed, boujee boho vibe, a mix of colourful pillows, rugs, and lanterns will add just the right amount of Mediterranean feel. Or, for a more elegant and sophisticated look, go for neutral shades, greenery, and elegant lighting fixtures. Whichever your direction, use your natural surroundings to your advantage, keep it simple, and let the natural beauty of your tipis (oh, and your love) shine through.
When it comes to lighting, consider a mix of candlelight, lanterns, and festoon lights for a warm and inviting atmosphere. And for added warmth and cozying up to your partner later on in the night, throw in a few warm blankets or throws to keep things toasty. All it takes is a few key decorations, a bitta mood lighting, and you’ll be sweeping your guests off their feet in no time.
Sussing your wedding non-negotiables
In terms of the nitty gritty? There are a few non-negotiables you may want to think about when planning a home wedding. We’re talking shade and water for your guests if it’s hot, or heating if it’s not. Especially in Central Otago, where it can get to both extremes pretty easily depending on time of year.
You may also want to protect your home from rowdy after-midnighters by keeping the partying to one defined space, or tipi. In fact, it’s a good idea to have various spaces and places for guests to relax and enjoy the day – consider having the bar area beneath some shady trees or hiring one or two mini tipi hats for lounge and bar areas. And don’t forget about water and drinks!
Food & Drink Catering for your home wedding
Speak of the devil. When it comes to food and drinks at your home wedding, you’re in control. Say it again. Your house, your rules, which means you decide whether you want the full monty catering the likes of The Platter Share, Aspiring Catering, Morsel or Raspberry Creek, or whether you opt for a DIY barbeque with cheap beer, expensive shots, and your little cousins are on dishes. Kidding, sort of.
In all seriousness, do make sure you’ve got a way to provide plenty of accessible water to your guests. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, honey. It’s good for the skin. If you get a caravan bar or other drinks service in, they may be able to help with this.
Speaking of vendors, we’ve rubbed shoulders with more than our fair share of food gurus in Wānaka and Queenstown. So if you’re looking for recommendations, give us a bell and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction.
Music & Entertainment, home-wedding style
Nothing makes or breaks the party like the music, so make sure you pick good. Whether you’re the live band type or you’d opt for DJ, your wedding music should reflect your taste and personality as a couple. No pressure, huh? One way to go about this is by creating a playlist with all your favourite songs and handing that over to DJ Kool to run with. Or, alternatively, have a list of ‘Don’t-you-trucking-dare’ songs that you can also slip to the DJ. Lord knows which list Wagon Wheel will be on.
Next, consider setting up a dance floor – or even better, a designated dance tipi. A dance tipi creates the perfect atmosphere for a boogie, and has a weirdly good way of breaking the ice and getting your guests to ditch their shoes and their bad chat at the door. Good vibes only, please.
Finally, get creative. Dim the lights, get a strobe in, throw some helium balloons in the mix – make this an unforgettable night for both you and your guests. Mountain Beats, Freefall, and Calico Entertainment are just a few of the music & entertainment gurus we rate to take your wedding to the next level.
Bad Weather Contingency Plan
Mother Nature can be a real witch sometimes, so it’s always best to be prepared for the worst. Lucky for you – we kind of already are. Don’t want to be too obvious here, but ah, you’ve got tipis. So unless it’s flooding, cycloning, or you happened to park up in the middle of a snow storm, you’ll probably be okay.
However – rain means muddy, wet guests, so do have some kind of back up if you’ve planned for a bulk of the wedding to be outside. Whether that means moving your ceremony into the tipi or turning the dance tent into your reception area, it’s always worth having a contingency plan in place. You don’t need it until you do.
So, there you have it. The good folks guide to all things Home Weddings, bringing you all you need to know about how to plan your own wedding from the comfort of home. Whether you’re having a BYO potluck with your thirty cousins, Tracie and all the neighbours on your street, or whether you’re having a boujee high-brow wedding with caterers, a live band and olive branches on the tables – just remember to enjoy the process, stay organised, and don’t hesitate to reach out to the professionals for help when needed. Cough. That would be us. And we’ve got loads more tips for planning your own wedding where that came from.