When it comes to choosing a wedding venue, some couples are finding there’s no place like home.
At-home weddings are romantic, intimate, and always memorable, especially when the property offers views of sweeping mountains, lush meadows, or rivers and ponds.
They sometimes come with some logistical challenges — parking, bathrooms, and a backup plan in case of inclement weather, to name a few. But, in some cases, it can be cheaper to host your wedding in your own backyard.
You’ll save on venue fees and you won’t have to worry about time restrictions or limits on how you can decorate. Most of all, you’ll create wonderful memories in a place that you adore.
Sarah Cochran and Aaron Crane were about to put a deposit on a wedding venue in Chittenden County — a rustic red barn. Sarah had the check in hand when she turned to Aaron and asked if he would consider holding their wedding reception at her family home in Craftsbury instead.
“My dad would always joke, ‘I don’t understand why you don’t just do it here,’” Sarah said.
Aaron, who hails from Michigan and had fallen in love with Sarah during a summer spent with her family, didn’t need much convincing.
Before long they had set a July 5, 2014 wedding date and began putting the details in place.
“We immediately started to figure out to set things up,” Sarah said. “We knew we’d have to get a tent. As far as our ceremony went I wanted it to be in a place where our guests were looking at the mountains.”
Sarah’s parents, Nathan and Avril Cochran, owners of the Great Outdoors sporting good stores in Newport and Morrisville, were thrilled to host the event on their property, which has sweeping views of Hunger Mountain, large meadows and acres of woodlands.
Aaron and Sarah met during their sophomore year of college at Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois.
Aaron was engaged to someone else at the time.
“Since he was engaged and a few years older than me, I didn’t think much of it,” Sarah said.
The two traveled in the same social circle and became close friends. Aaron eventually broke up with his fiancée.
“He started pursuing me and at first I wanted nothing to do with him in that way, but eventually he won me over,” Sarah said.
Once they became a couple, they looked forward to weekly Friday night dates. One Friday in November 2013, Aaron announced that they were going to do something “a little different.”
Turns out he had designed a scavenger hunt, using a series of notes to guide her to places where they had shared important moments together.
The first note led her to the place where they had enjoyed their first kiss. The next led her to the place where he had given her flowers for the first time. The final note directed her to the place where they had realized they were falling in love. There, Aaron was waiting for her with a ring and got down on one knee to propose.
While Sarah finished her senior year of college, her family worked together to prepare for the wedding.
Sarah’s father and uncle built a wooden trellis under which she and Aaron stood during the ceremony. They cut logs that were used to hold wildflower arrangements and they built an old-fashioned wooden lemonade stand that proved to be especially popular with younger guests.
“My dad was mowing the lawn every day,” Sarah said. “My parents were constantly running around trying to make it perfect. When the tent company arrived, my family was out there making sure it was a good spot.”
Several of their bridal attendants and groomsmen arrived during the week leading up to the wedding and stayed at the Cochran house.
“It was so much fun and we had all of our friends we cared about with us,” Sarah said.
After the wedding ceremony, which was held in a meadow, about 200 guests gathered under a large Camelot-style tent for an Italian dinner catered by Hoagies in Morrisville.
Looking back, Sarah says it’s difficult to choose a favorite part of her wedding day.
One of the most magical moments was when the couple did a “first look” before the ceremony, allowing their photographer to capture the moment when they saw each other for the first time.
“Aaron was so sweet and he cried,” Sarah said. “It was an incredible moment to let it soak in before we made the biggest commitment of our lives.”
Having her wedding at her childhood home made it unique in way that having it at a public venue where weddings take place every weekend could not have, Sarah said.
“It just made it so much more special and individual,” Sarah said. “At my house, only we have gotten married there. It was such a beautiful and sentimental experience. It was the best day of my life.”
The couple honeymooned in Cape Cod and are living in Illinois where Sarah is an admissions counselor and Aaron is completing his undergraduate studies.