Emma & Mike’s At Home Wedding

Novelist Emma Straub gets married in her parents Brooklyn townhouse

*Emma, Author & Mike, Graphic Designer*

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I always imagined that I’d want an enormous wedding, with hundreds of people and fanfare befitting a queen. When it came down to it, however, and it was time to plan my actual wedding, with my actual boyfriend and my actual family, I was surprised to discover that what I wanted was much more intimate. We ended up with about thirty people in my parents’ dining room. I wore my mother’s dress and a piece of tulle the size of a pumpkin on my head. It was packed and warm and perfect. Everyone (including the rabbi) laughed throughout.

What we did right: keep it small. The smaller the better. We had a larger party the next day, but in retrospect, I would have picked a handful of people and moved them to the ceremony list, and then cancelled the second event. After the wedding, all I wanted to do was hang out with my husband and our families.

Have talented friends. We had one friend, Catherine Thompson, draw our portrait. Another friend sang at the ceremony. The printer cut our letterpressing bill in half because Mike does a lot of work with him. In my experience, everyone loves weddings, and will go out of their way to help you. Help is good.

What we did somewhat right: Tell people what to do. This is not the time to be a shrinking violet. I think this is something we could have done more of, actually– we were so solid on what we wanted that we didn’t end up delegating much responsibility on the actual day. Make lists. Give them to your mothers and friends.

Schedule things well. I spent much of my wedding day getting my hair done. Make sure you’re not missing the fun.

What we did wrong: Nothing. Here’s the thing. I was at my parents’ house, surrounded by people I love. We hired a great photographer, and my best friend was shooting video all day. Afterwards, we all had lobster rolls. What could be better? No matter what isn’t exactly right, it’s still your wedding. You’re going to be goofy with laughter all day long. Just enjoy it.

All photos by Cappy Hotchkiss

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  • That’s awesome, awesome, awesome! There is something vintage and “old-fashioned” about this that incredibly appeals to me… In all the lovely wedding pictures of my grand-parents and other older people I know, there is never any “in-you-face” extravagance, but always an intimate home (or small similar venue) reception that’s still filled with elegance and happiness…

  • I love that she wore flats, I am wearing ballet slippers…unless science develops an even more comfortable shoe before I get married.

    • I~wannabea~Cabrera

      What kind of ballet slippers did you end up going with? I’m thinking I’ll be wearing ballet slippers as well, since my man is just a couple inches taller than me.

  • oh, i love it! if i could do it all over again, this would be how i’d do it!

  • We were just married at a friend’s house, as our little rental cottage is much much too small. It was amazing and I would highly reccomend to at-home route to anyone who wants an intimate day.

  • absolutely beautiful. I don’t know how many times I have looked at my parents backyard and counted imaginary people… I think i get to about 20. And then I remember we are inviting 100… shoot ;)

  • I love this wedding! They look so relaxed and happy :)

  • To anyone who’s considering it, I totally recommend having a wedding at home. It requires patience and organization and a whole lot of prep beforehand, but when the day comes, you’ll be happy you got to do things your way instead of being bullied by a venue.
    Props to Emma and Mike – your wedding looked awesome!

  • Anonymous

    Hm, this seems to require a rather nice or at least large home! Wouldn’t work so well in our apartment or our parents’ suburban ranch homes!

    Lovely wedding though, and great photos.

  • Meg

    Hey Anon-
    Nope. It’s not a large home. Well, maybe it’s a large home for Manhattan, but it’s in Manhattan, so you get the picture. Not as large as suburban ranch home, for sure! If I showed you pictures of the guests you would be able to tell that it was clearly a tight squeeze for the 30ish guests in attendance. Now, admittedly, we couldn’t even fit that many people in our apartment, but we could fit them in my parents small home. So, it doesn’t work for everyone, sure, but if you are willing to scale (way) back (and maybe borrow a friends slightly larger space) it’s probably feasible for most of us.


  • little miss

    I, personally, love everything about this. Totally personal, surrounded by your own, or someone you loves’ home, and all those that are important to you.

    I’m tagging this as a definite inspiration, for well, …one day!

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    What a gorgeous wedding. I adore the crazy veil thing and the beautiful shoes.

  • I’ve been trying to comment on this for ages, but it keeps screwing up on me!

    I’m getting married at home (on the family farm) next October, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I think I read Little Women a few too many times as a child because I get all misty every time I think of getting ready in my parent’s bedroom and then walking down the stairs. Sigh . ..

  • I’m with you pepperedmoth. I got married at my dad’s house, and I can’t tell you how emotional it was for both of us…

  • Anonymous

    Her shoes are to die for!! Where are they from? I’ll be a 5 month pregnant bride at my wedding and I think pretty pink or orange flats will be perfect with my definitely-not-white-dress.

  • kate

    Am I hallucinating or did Stephin Merritt sing at your wedding? Congratulations on a beautiful day!

  • Kenneth Freeman

    I’ve added this as a citation to Wikipedia’s article on Weddings in the United States re home weddings. Blessings on your path!

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