Top Tips for Renting a Vacation Home for Your Wedding

South Lake Tahoe Wedding Madeline Druice

Photo by Madeline Druce

 Reader Question

This question landed in my inbox recently. More mountain brides are looking for unique venues and options for their mountain weddings. I hope these top tips for planning a vacation home wedding help!

Hi Christie

I was searching the internet for weddings held at Camp Highlander when I came across your blog post: Are Camp Weddings Really Cheaper? with bride Haley. I loved your interview and was intrigued that Haley opted to forgo Camp Highlander for a different option: National Forest campsite and 2 vacation rental properties.

I’m especially interested  in her experience with the vacation homes including many amenities in the price. I would looooove to get more information about  using a vacation home for my wedding.

Thank you for your time,
Melissa F.


June Lake Wedding Bergreen Photography-

Photo by Bergreen Photography

Dear Melissa

My husband is an onsite property manager and we’ve  seen a lot of good and bad things happen with vacation rentals. Keep in mind that private home rentals are not hotels, so the service you get may be paired down.

Here are my top tips for booking a vacation rental for your wedding:

  • Let the Buyer Beware with VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner). These tend to be cheaper, but owners often don’t know what it takes to properly manage their property. Often, they like to take your money, but if something goes wrong with the house, they may or may not be available to fix it.
  • Ideally, Try To Find a property management company The company should offer local, 24 hour service in case something goes wrong. It could be something as simple as needed more toilet paper or something as bad as a plumbing issue. Remember, with a private residence, you are on your own. It’s not like a hotel, where you can call the front desk for all of your needs.
  • Ask what’s included in the rental. Some owners don’t offer to pick up and clean your towels or maid service during your stay, you have to do that yourself. Or you may be responsible for buying your own toilet paper. Some owners still don’t have wifi installed!
  • Tour the properties you’re considering. When you visit your mountain destination to meet vendors, do a site visit of the properties you;re considering. Is the decor nice? Are the beds comfortable? Does it smell clean? (Yes, I’ve seen throwbacks from the 70s and 80s that are dark and musty. Not something you want for your wedding).
  • Pay attention to town ordinances.  Some towns like Mammoth Lakes in CA have town ordinances prohibiting weddings and large parties at private residences. Check with your wedding planner or call the Town government offices to make sure your destination allows weddings at Private residences.
  • Secure the proper permits. If your destination allow weddings at vacation rentals, may sure you comply with any permitting requirements, including parking permits, noise regulations (i.e you may only be partying until 9, instead of midnight), and regulations for bathroom facilities (you may have to rent a Porta Potty for a large guest list). Many towns impose stiff fines for breaking town ordinances.
  • Be transparent. Don’t try to pretend that you;re just renting a home for a “family vacation” if you’re really planning a wedding. Be transparent with the owner and reservation company about your plans. If something goes wrong and you lied, you may be on the hook for damages, even for things that you don’t think were your fault, and fines for breaking town ordinances.​
  • Get help. I highly recommend that destination brides hire a wedding planner as a matter of course. It’s super helpful to have an ally on the ground, working on your behalf  when you can;t be there. This is doubly important if  you’re trying to do something unconventional, like have a wedding at a vacation home. Even if you’re on a tight budget, a planner will be well worth it. Some planners even offer an hourly consultation rate. Getting solid information on permits, town ordinances and the ins-and-outs of vacation home rentals is well worth a $100 consultation!