Planning a Wedding at Home? Here Are a Few Things to Consider

While many couples around the world are canceling or postponing their weddings because of the coronavirus pandemic, some are scaling down their plans and getting married at home.

Justine Roach, 31, and Hrishikesh Desai, 37, who are from Los Angeles, had originally planned to marry March 21 at Ojai Valley Inn, a resort in Ojai, Calif., before about 200 guests. The couple instead chose to exchange vows on the same day at the Beverly Hills home of the bride’s parents, with only their immediate family of six present.

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Curbing Hidden Wedding Costs

Creating and sticking to a budget can be a challenge for couples planning a wedding. The national average cost currently stands at $33,931, according to wedding website the Knot.

Unforeseen expenditures on things like postage, certain rentals or delivery charges can easily drive up costs. Event planners urge couples and their families to keep a close watch on some of these hidden or lesser-known expenses.

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How to Keep Your Proposal a Surprise (Hint: Ditch the Box)

When Steve Zimmermann, 39, thought about proposing to Kailey Smith, 37, the Toronto native wanted everything to be set up perfectly, and most importantly it had to be a surprise. The couple, who met while they were working at Homeguard Funding, an independent mortgage brokerage firm in Newmarket, Ontario, were engaged at the Ladies Pavilion in Central Park this past December. The proposal included a blanket, two mugs of hot cocoa, a pavilion glowing with string lights, and a photographer hiding nearby to capture the moment. And, to pull off the surprise, Mr. Zimmermann kept the engagement ring discretely hidden in his pocket using Ring Stash, a compact box designed to conceal an engagement ring.

“The box that the ring came in was large, and if I had it in my pocket Kailey might have spotted it ahead of time,” said Mr. Zimmermann.

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Wedding Insurance 101

After a year and a half of careful wedding planning, Sally Niebuhr was ready to watch her oldest daughter, Kiki LaCroix, walk down the aisle at a winery in Sonoma, Calif., last October. But Mother Nature had other plans.

When the Kincade fire struck the area just a few days before the wedding was scheduled to take place, causing widespread evacuations, their dreams of a wine-country wedding were crushed.

The good news? Ms. Niebuhr had bought a wedding insurance policy for $350 from Travelers Insurance that provided $7,500 of cancellation coverage. She was refunded the $6,500 deposit she paid for the venue. The money was then used to book another place in San Francisco on Oct. 26, her original wedding date and just three days after the wildfires hit Sonoma.

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Booking Hotel Rooms for a Group? Here Are Some Tips

No one told my wife and me that planning a wedding would be easy, but we thought reserving a hotel block — a cluster of 10 rooms or more, at a reduced rate, at a hotel where our out-of-town guests could stay — would be a cinch.

Things started out smoothly. We found a modern hotel from a big hotel chain that had more than enough rooms to accommodate our guests. The hotel was only a couple of blocks away from our wedding location. It offered a competitive room block rate of 10 percent off the regular rate (which at the time we thought was a good deal). It had four stars on TripAdvisor. So we signed a contract.

I wish we hadn’t.

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Dos and Don’ts of Thank-You Notes

In the afterglow of a wedding or honeymoon, sitting down to write personalized thank-you notes can be a daunting, and often dreaded, task for most couples, especially those couples who have had large weddings.

But do not fret. Etiquette experts and professional card writers have some advise for making the process a little easier.

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Let the Wedding Games Begin

Meredith and Andrew Shackleford didn’t want their wedding to have an ordinary cocktail hour. Instead of having their guests sip drinks and eat canapés, the couple divided everyone into six teams to compete in a series of games that included croquet, ladder ball, and blindfolded wine tastings. The winning team took home bottles of champagne and a trophy.

“The games were a way to prevent people from staying glued to their phones,” said Ms. Shackleford, 34. “We wanted to create something where people could really get involved and interact with each other.”

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