A couple of weeks before our at-home wedding, our neighbor placed a big, honking boatlift on his beach. This wasn’t any old boatlift. It was a rickety, rusty eyesore.

I wouldn’t have cared. Honest. It’s just that my husband-to-be and I spent months getting our home ready for our backyard wedding. This involved adding flowerbeds, planting a truckload of ever-thirsty impatiens (more on those later), powerwashing, and even painting.

I envisioned my guests mingling on the spotless deck, cocktails in hand, a soft breeze from Lake Erie cooling their sun-exposed skin. I pictured sailboats in the distance, a beach free of garbage and smelly dead things and an unobstructed view of Fermi II (that’s the nuclear power plant across the lake). I did not forsee a rusty, contraption of a boatlift to be part of the picture.

So, I traipsed on over to my neighbour’s house and told him we were getting married and we were having an at-home wedding. And by the way, can you move your boatlift because it won’t look nice in my wedding photos? (The nerve of me!)

Our wedding day came and went, and the boatlift didn’t budge. And you know what? It didn’t matter. Not a single bit. I did not harbor bad feelings towards my neighbor, and he did not hold my temporary lapse of reason against me.  In fact, the day before our wedding he offered us the use of a wooden platform that we ended up using it as a stage for the Irish band!

Looking back, I can’t believe that I was so petty. But that’s what planning a wedding can do to you. Even a small wedding. It can make you crazy. Unrecognizable. The evil twin sister you didn’t know you had can suddenly rear her ugly head. Heck, there are even TV shows about this kind of thing.

And having an at-home wedding can intensify the symptoms -especially if you are a perfectionist. There are so many extra details involved with planning an at-home wedding that it can be overwhelming for anyone – but especially those who have a penchant for perfection.

Not only will you be running around like a hen with her head missing trying to cross off the zillion things on your to-do list, you’ll also want to make sure your home is extra-tidy, extra-lovely, extra-special for your extra-important big day. And that will take Effort.  (Note the capital ‘E’ for emphasis.)

One of the first things Darin and I did when we decided to have a backyard wedding was head out to a local nursery to load up on flowers, and other bedding plants. In fact, we spent the entire spring and summer landscaping our property, which included planting dozens of flats of impatiens, as well as an assortment of perennials. Through it all, I discovered a new passion – gardening, and I lost weight without even trying! (Hauling wheelbarrows full of earth day after day will get you in shape pretty fast!)I also discovered that impatiens and a scorching hot summer climate make for a very LARGE water bill.

Even though we were having our at home wedding outdoors, Darin and I decided not only to landscape the yard – but also fix up our house before the wedding. This included stripping wallpaper, painting, stripping more wallpaper, and, did I mention stripping wallpaper? We had plenty of help from family, but Darin and I truly busted our behinds trying to get things in order.

Of course, not all couples planning an at-home wedding spend months fixing up their place. Some people don’t lift a finger on home improvements. If that’s the case, planning can be a whole lot easier.

Tomorrow: Part 2 of ‘The Ups and Downs of an At Home Wedding?’