Do you ever wish you lived in a mansion that could host 500 of your closest friends? Holding a wedding in a private home isn't limited to luxury homeowners and their families. In fact, you can use your ideal home as a wedding venue even if you don't know the owners. Private mansions with sprawling yards, sweeping staircases, cascading fountains, and pristine views are available for rental by owners or by event management companies. The usual residents book a few nights in a hotel, the decorators and caterers prepare the space, and all you have to do is show up and enjoy the occasion.

Not for the Budget-Conscious

As tempting as it may be to imagine saving money by using a private residence, in reality this is actually a very expensive option. Even if you're able to coordinate directly with the homeowner without paying outside fees, you're still dealing with a residential house. That means you're paying out of pocket for party rentals like chairs, tables, tents, linens, and professional lighting. Some private homes even request that their renters use porta potties rather than the interior bathrooms. The total cost often comes to tens of thousands of dollars above the house rental fee.

There are reasons beyond budget to look for private homes as wedding venues, however. For one, you get to play host in the house of your dreams. Whether you've always wanted to throw parties in a California mansion with palm trees lining the pool, or your dreams run to mountain getaways with cozy fireplaces and breathtaking views, this is your chance to live out your fantasies.

Creating Event Space

If you found the home through a professional venue service, chances are high that previous weddings and special events have been held there. Ask to see photos of past events so you can see how other hosts have arranged the space. Often, by arranging tables in slightly different configurations, you can give an entirely different flow to the floor plan and create different types of atmospheres in the same space.

If your wedding will be the first major event in the venue, you still have a wealth of options for arranging the space to suit your party. To do this, consider what activities you want at your reception. Will there be dancing? Even if the house does not have an open space large enough to serve as a ballroom, you can still invite your guests to dance the night away. Divide your house into several smaller dancing areas. This allows you to feature different types of music, and gives your guests the option of finding their favorite song at any given moment.

The same concept goes for arranging the space to suit any type of reception activity. If there isn't a room large enough to act as a banquet room, break up your feast into several food stations where you can serve a variety of delectable treats.

Themed rooms keep guests moving, which adds variety and encourages socializing. Plus, smaller rooms seem full with fewer people, which gives your party a lively atmosphere even for the most intimate reception.

Ask About Limitations

Private homes come with a whole different set of etiquette rules than do most formal event spaces. Before booking the venue, ask about what limitations and restrictions apply. These frequently include number of guests and noise levels, but can also extend to what party rentals are allowed–and what party rentals are required. If your guests aren't allowed to use the house bathrooms, it's good to find out ahead of time. Some houses even regulate small details like whether red wine is allowed or whether you can only serve light-colored beverages. (Hint: check the color of the carpets.)

Because you're renting a space that the owners live in, there are other factors to consider. Do you need to purchase insurance in case a guest causes damage to private property? Are you liable if an expensive decoration item goes missing? Do the owners have pets? Even if there are no cats or dogs in attendance at your reception, their former presence in the house could trigger guests' allergies. Try to take every detail into consideration in order for your wedding to run smoothly. The feelings of intimacy that come with using a lived-in home comes with the responsibility of respecting another person's space.

Residential venues evoke feelings of home–even if the house in question isn't your own. Married life revolves around creating a loving home life together, so it makes sense to have the celebration take place in a livable setting. Beaches may be romantic and country clubs may be ritzy, but after all is said and done, there's still no place like home.

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