As elopements and intimate weddings keep gaining popularity, more couples are looking for alternatives to traditional venues, and an AirBnB wedding is the perfect “in between.” Whether you’re eloping without any guests, and want to stay in a well styled home rather than a generic hotel room, or you’re inviting your closest friends and family and want to celebrate without going to a restaurant, an AirBnB wedding might be the solution you’re looking for.
Many of my couples travel to Colorado from out-of-state to elope in the mountains. And to really get the local experience, I always recommend staying in an AirBnB rather than a hotel (unless we’re talking hotels like Devil’s Thumb Ranch and Dunton Hot Springs, of course). These days, you can use AirBnB to rent anything from a private island to a house boat to tiny homes and yurts, so your imagination is the only limit here.
With an AirBnB wedding, you’ll have separate rooms to get ready without seeing each other – or a cute space to get ready together, if you’re going the less traditional route. And instead of going out to a restaurant surrounded by other diners, you can have a private chef prepare a meal for you to enjoy without anyone else around.
AirBnB Wedding Checklist and Planning Tips
Suitable for Events
When you’re searching for AirBnB wedding venues, you used to be able to search for properties that were listed as “suitable for events.” But AirBnB actually removed this search filter in early 2020, and now there’s no direct way to sort by this on their platform.
VRBO still has an “events allowed” filter, so I recommend that you use their website to search rather than AirBnB if you are planning to host any part of your wedding day at the property. Many properties are listed on both websites, so you can always find properties on VRBO and search for it directly on AirBnB, if you prefer booking with them. This is the best way to find properties that allow hosting events, which is extra important if you are inviting any guests over. Most listings without this designation will have rules against having anyone at the property who was not listed on the reservation, which means even having a photographer over could be considered a breach of terms.
But if you fall in love with a listing that’s not listed as “suitable for events,” that doesn’t have to mean you should give up. AirBnB listings will let you message the owner before requesting to book. Use this to explain exactly what you’re looking for, whether it’s hosting a private dinner for ten people in the dining room, having a small ceremony on the lawn outside, or just having a photographer capture you getting ready before you do your elopement somewhere else.
It’s better to ask for permission – and get it in writing – than to lose your security deposit after your AirBnB wedding!
If you are hoping to get ready at your AirBnB before heading somewhere else for a hike or portraits, I recommend waiting to book a property until after you’ve picked the perfect ceremony or portrait location with your photographer. If you book your AirBnB first, you risk choosing one that’s a long drive away from any of the locations you’re interested in, and having to spend much of your wedding day in the car.
Neighborhood, noise ordinances, and parking
Look at any outdoor photos of the property to see if there are neighboring houses close by. Read the listing carefully to see if there are any rules about noise. The last AirBnB I stayed in had a rule about no conversation outdoors after 7pm, which would have been a serious bummer for an elopement.
If the listing doesn’t specifically mention the number of designated parking spaces, ask the owner before booking. I once photographed a bride getting ready at an airbnb that only had a single designated parking spot outside – and the closest parking for me was a whole neighborhood over. Make sure there’s parking for yourselves, vendors, and guests on property or very close by.
Find a space that needs minimal decorations
When searching for the perfect AirBnB wedding venue, the options can feel overwhelming. Try filtering by AirBnB Plus to see the best styled properties, or AirBnB Luxe if you’re feeling fancy. Also make sure that the home has lots of natural lighting – if the listing photos look very dark, chances are your wedding photos will, too!
Rent tableware and furniture
If you are having a dinner reception at your AirBnB wedding, even if it’s just for you and your partner, consider renting tableware. Many properties will only have basic IKEA plates and glasses, so having something a little more special for dinner can make a world of difference.
For outdoor ceremonies on the property, you might want to rent chairs, rather than bringing furniture from the AirBnB outside. If the property allows it, you could even rent a party tent and space heaters, and have your whole wedding outdoors without any worry about the weather.
Hire a food truck or private chef
One of the biggest draws of having your intimate wedding at an AirBnB is that you have lots of options for dinner, beyond going out to a restaurant where you’re seated among other diners. If you’re having guests, you could book a food truck or caterer to feed everyone, or you could have a private chef prepare a meal for just the two of you. If you want a private chef, make sure that the AirBnB’s kitchen has all the amenities you need to prepare a meal.
Consider a wedding coordinator
If you’d like to adventure outside of the property on your elopement day, then come back to a well-styled reception setup with dinner waiting, I highly recommend working with a wedding coordinator. They can handle all the styling and setup, bring and return any furniture or tableware rentals, and coordinate the arrival of your chef, all without you worrying about a thing. Many wedding planners offer affordable options for small elopements like this, and especially if you’re eloping on a weekday.
Stay with friends and family
Many couples choose an intimate wedding experience as a way to spend more time with their very closest friends and family, instead of having to entertain a hundred people at a traditional wedding. If spending time with your loved ones is important to you, consider renting a big AirBnB wedding venue with enough rooms for everyone to stay together. It’ll be more expensive than a smaller home, but you can always ask people to chip in, or treat them to the stay as a thanks for traveling to your wedding.
When you’ve found the perfect AirBnB wedding venue, make sure that you book the trip to arrive at least a full day before your elopement. You’ll want enough time to get settled in, and get familiar with the whole property. Some of my couples have used this time to rearrange some furniture and hide any decorations that they didn’t want in their photos (stuffed animals and deer heads, I’m looking at you). Just take photos of what the space looks like when you arrive, so that you can put everything back the way it was before you leave.
And there you have it; my best tips for having an AirBnB wedding – in Colorado or anywhere else! Scrolling through AirBnB listings is kind of a hobby of mine, and I love helping couples find the perfect combination of epic locations and cozy properties to create a unique intimate wedding experience.
All photos in this post are my own, with the exception of the final collage with photos from six different AirBnBs – those photos are all from the listings.