So in the past two week I’ve met with a few clients who are having an event at a private home/estate. With this comes great flexibility [set up time, vendor selection, decor choices] but also great risk and responsibility [especially if it isn’t YOUR home, and if it’s located in a neighborhood of any kind]. The main foreseeable problems, right off the bat, consist of a few things: parking, inconveniencing the neighbors, and noise restrictions.
So, let me break them down a bit in the way I see fit.
1. The parking situation, most likely, will not be easy. My suggestion is to find a local church or business center that may allow you to rent or use their spaces for your event. If it’s a couple blocks away, offer the guests a trolley. Yes, it may add a tad more expenses than you anticipated originally when you started planning, but the convenience for your guests will be worth it! Plus, this way the driveway of the home you’re at, and right out front of that, looks clean, beautiful, and UN-cluttered with cars for that big grand exit you’re thinking of […or is that me?]!!
2. For the noise situation, the best thing you can do is speak with the city. I’ll be honest- I’m not quite sure that the city will grant permits to anyone- home or not- for “sound” after 10 or 10:30pm. I believe it’s a general respect thing for the community surrounding you. Which is why this ties so much into the 3rd point, below…
Really and truly- that third one is a biggie. Probably the biggie-est. So, I’ll tell you what I’ve told them: offer the olive branch.
3. The absolute BEST thing you can do for dealing with the neighbors near by is be preemptive about it and TELL THEM, up front, and personally. I’m not saying you need to notify all the neighbors within 2 blocks but definitely the immediate near-bys are important. More than that, say it with more than words. Say it with effort. Say it with food. A few examples:
Fresh Baked Cookies
Fresh Baked Seasonal Bread [Home-made]. Think Banana, pumpkin, or something you grow locally in the community or in your home even!
Fresh Fruit or Produce. Again, bonus points if it’s grown ON the property or IN the community. What a way to truly make an impact!
I think the best way to do it is to put together a small basket with a personal thank you note [preemptive, mind you- “thanks in advance for understanding!”]- maybe even calligraphed [which makes me swoon at the thought] and a nice bottle of wine or champagne accompanied by your home-baked good or straight-from-the-farm produce. Then, along with the homeowners [if possible], you two as a couple go around and ring the doorbell, delivering them and explaining the situation at hand. Do this two weeks or so before the wedding. In most cases people should be delighted at your being up front about things and even more pleased that you’ve made such a kind gesture to them. A good idea as well is to package them similar to your “Out Of Town” baskets/boxes [which is, traditionally, what you give to guests who travel into town to see you get married- typically you leave these at the hotel and the hotel will deliver them to the guests’ rooms upon checking in]. It’s a great idea to give them a taste of your wedding and a glimpse of you two as a couple. Talking it out can never be over-estimated!
The idea is that taking care of problem number 3 [the neighbors] will take care, really, of ALL the problems. If you decide to allow guests street parking and one of them covers the neighbor’s driveway- they may be MUCH slower to get angry about it as they’re enjoying their gift of fresh baked cookies. Say they typically go to bed around 9:30pm and your event rages on until 11pm…. perhaps, since you’ve prepped them, they WON’T complain to the police which means you won’t get shut down, regardless of a “noise permit”! Also, giving them a head’s up to the situation allows them ample time to book a trip and be out of town should they choose to “not deal with” the mayhem that evening.
I also just suggested to one couple, who is using a parent’s friend’s estate for their event, to offer purchasing a local hotel getaway for the evening of their wedding and gifting it to the home’s occupants. A kind way to say “feel free to get out of here” without making them pick up the tab.
I’ll say it in conclusion. Gifts work wonders. And I bet, at the end of your day, you’ll be happy you did it. Because, really, NOT having a problem is so, so much better than having one that needs to be worked out!
If you do plan on having an event in your own backyard- literally- the smallest touches will make the biggest differences. And more than that- it’s a place that you can come back to time and time again to remember the way you felt the day you walked the aisle. Don’t forget to capture these engagement feelings, too- the flutters, the stress, the excitement, the anticipation, and even the fears. You’ll never feel this way again, never truly feel 100% this way. It’s a magnificent feeling and something worth noting and taking with you forever and ever [amen].
Hope that your week is caught up in your heart’s fondest memories.