Risk Management of a Private Wedding Reception

This is a light hearted review of a wedding reception for 70 guests held in the grounds of our home in The Vines – Western Australia.

The wedding reception consisted of many items that needed to be considered and managed from a risk point of view

Bridal party – Preparation at the “Power” residence  

The bride and chief bridesmaid stayed at our house overnight. The remainder of the bridal wedding party arrived at the house in very early hours of the morning to have hair done, make up dabbed on; testing out dresses and last minute adjustments to their wedding dresses and photographs taken.

The bridal party consisted of:

Bride, 5 bridesmaids, bride and groom mothers, international female cousins, hair stylist and makeup stylist and photographer

My wife and I were the only other two persons in the house that morning.

I was the only male in the area and I was a bit out of my depth as all the females were wandering around the house, several scantily clad and all were having a great time preparing to look fantastic for a wedding later on in the day.

I said to my wife that we needed depart and have a very long breakfast at a local café for a couple of hours.

The Escape Plan (Emergency Response / Evacuation Plan) was enacted and I escaped unscathed.

Site set up – external to the house 

  1. Contractors installing overhead lighting amongst the trees and climbing step ladders to reach, seating and furniture on the back lawn, portable electrical powered refrigerators on trailer to keep the beer & soft drinks cool, installation of temporary fence with star pickets hammered into the ground, caterers using the kitchen and serving finger food out on the back lawn area, audio and music set up with speakers and microphone
  2. Installing powered Port-a-Loos (2 toilets to cater for guests needs)
  3. Car Parking for guests both on the property and on the adjacent road
  4. Contractors driving onto the property to deliver and pick up items such as furniture and disposing of waste, delivering and serving food
  5. Back yard bar using contractor to serve drinks in glassware

Customers / Guests

  1. Adults of all ages, shapes and sizes, drinking alcohol and having a good time
  2. Two small children aged about 4 and 5 years old
  3. Ensuring that guests did go into “Off Limit” areas

Local fauna

  1. Tiger snakes hiding in the Ellen Brook Reserve (about 30 metres away) – the lawn was mown to expose any snake moving on the lawn to the local aggressive birds – Kookaburras – who would attack the snakes – we had not seen a snake on the property in the past five years.
  2. Local belligerent kangaroos – they did turn up on the grounds for a long distance look
  3. A surprise entrant – a Quenda who lives on the property. This resident made an appearance in the afternoon and appeared to be very disturbed as the setup of the wedding was right in the Quenda’s running path.
  4. Spiders and paper wasps who reside in and around the building exterior – the area was sprayed the day before to get rid of any issues
  5. The local emus – but they did not make an appearance that day and for once showed a hint of basic intelligence!


  1. Potential to be a very warm day – but it was about 32C – some misting sprays were set up and used to keep the local area cool – and worked well when the wind blew.
  2. Thick grass on the Ellenbrook reserve – high potential bush fire hazard on the boundary of our property – 10 metres from guests in the back yard
  3. People who need to walk up and down a set of 6 steps to access the upper patio and the Port-a-loos around the back of the property
  4. Lots of women in high heels walking on grassed lawn areas
  5. Keeping the bride and groom happy – making sure that all appears to be going to plan and not to spoil this special day.
  6. A stressed out bridal party when a few wedding reception related organisational issues arose – but this was attended to by my 30 year old son who also calmed everyone down as much as was humanly possible
  7. International guests – some of who did not speak English
  8. Elderly and frail guests in attendance
  9. Very professional caterers, but not fully informed of the working environment – they had a couple of copper based saucepans which did not work on our stove induction cook top – but flexibility in approach and using in situ equipment solved the cooking issues.

Safety issues were many and included

  1. Guest and Contractor Traffic Coordination Management – there were a few times when people were locked in to their parking spaces and we had to get guests to move their vehicle to allow free access
  2. There was on very minor bump on a car when another car was trying to reverse out – no damage was done – just a bit embarrassing at the time.
  3. Advising neighbours of the requirement to park many cars on the verge of the local road
  4. Young children running around the back yard – which was not fenced – Parents were observed to be constantly checking and guiding their children and they (parents and the children) were very well behaved anyway
  5. Local power was used for all lighting and audio / disco set up – all protected by the inbuilt property RCDs
  6. 30 year old single son arriving at his parent’s house, in the middle of female preparations, panicking in the presence of the overwhelming levels of oestrogen and calling for backup.
  7. Star pickets were hammered into the ground by the contractor who requested advice from the property owner– but a local knowledge determined where this could be done to avoid underground power and the bore water reticulation system.
  8. Installation of temporary light lighting was done by a contractor who had to climb a ladder to reach the correct installation height – he had an assistant who footed the ladder as required.
  9. No one smoked at the reception – reducing the potential fire risk – a hose had bee ran out from the bore to put out any small spot fires quickly.
  10. The property owner (me) took a helicopter view of the whole wedding reception activity and took a step back to spot any potential issues and I made myself the focal point to all guests if they needed have a contact point about any issues or query.

The point of this story is

There were many things that could have gone pear-shaped – but we had a great time with no major safety issues arising and safety bureaucracy was not allowed to interfere unnecessarily on that special day.

Do a mental risk assessment some time prior to the event, anticipate and mitigate or remove safety issues and put in place controls. This was done in conjunction with the wedding planner who happened to be the lovely bride and was also based on a previous wedding reception experience at the property.

Hire good contractors – assess them but don’t interfere with their core business – they are in the game to make money and do it safely and efficiently.

Have an overall person in charge to keep tabs on the activity as it happened and where possible sense and pre-empt potential issues.

There was not one piece of paper work used for this exercise – all went well as it was coordinated, adjusted and used competent persons to carry out activities.

It was a lovely and very special wedding reception.