Top Five Do's
1. Hire a professional - This goes for your caterer AND wedding planner. Hosting one of the biggest celebrations of your life in your home is not the time to try your hand at DIY. It takes a team of experienced, competent professionals to get a home in order for a wedding and reception. Your caterer will have a proper notion of staff-to-guest ratios, what and how many rentals to order and will partner with your wedding planner to map out an optimum plan. Find a caterer with impeccable references, the proper licensing and quality staff. For an event of this magnitude, you'll want a wedding planning team with the chops to pull it off with grace and aplomb so you and your family can enjoy your day.
2. Have a back-up plan - In most cases with a home-based celebration, much of the festivities will take place outside. Ah, but weather is a fickle thing, especially here in North Texas, so you MUST have a contingency plan for bad weather. If there is no space in the actual residence, a tent can still be an option. They have become so advanced, with flooring and climate control, that your guests won't even notice the weather outside.
3. Plan your space well - This is when having a pro by your side is exceptionally helpful. Wedding planners and caterers have a lot of experience laying out event space and mapping out flow. You'll want obvious entrances and exits, and you'll want your bars, cake tables and any food stations to be in ideal locations that work best for the space. You will also need plenty of space for the caterer and staff to set-up, prep, stage, store and more. This space should not be adjacent to but near the action - and they will need power, lighting and water, too!
4. Make sure you have enough - You must plan enough time for set-up. It takes time to transform a house and yard into a wedding wonderland. You must plan for plenty of space - for rentals (you'll be storing them overnight), for vendor load-in/load-out, for the generator you are likely to need to rent. You must have enough potties. Portable restrooms have gone luxe and now you can rent trailers complete with flushing toilets, running water and climate control. And finally, make sure the homeowner and your vendors have enough of the right kind of insurance.
5. Rent everything - An event for 150 guests who may be imbibing a bit is not the time to highlight your Nana's precious heirloom serving pieces; that's just begging for trouble. You may be able to incorporate a special piece here and there, say at the cake or sweetheart table, but you should plan to rent all of the dishes, silverware, serving items and furniture. And trust your caterer to order what you need, as well as how much. It's more cost effective to allow them to order that standard 10% extra than pay the staff you've hired to serve to instead wash dishes. Also, be prepared (and budget!) to rent items you may not have thought about such as coolers or warming ovens, and a generator to provide sufficient power for lighting, catering needs and the entertainment!