Why Everyone You Know Is Suddenly Getting Married at an Airbnb
Airbnb says events and parties of more than 16 are against the rules — but that's not stopping couples whose plans have been foiled by the pandemic
What do you do when a global pandemic interferes with your wedding date? You could push it to 2022, like many couples have, or downsize your invite list and consult a novel new website called Airbnb-dot-com.
Maybe you’ve attended one, thrown your very own or seen it done on TikTok; with COVID-19 foiling plans across the country, many brides and grooms-to-be are turning to short-term rental properties to host their nuptial ceremonies and receptions. Wedding planner Erika Hernandez, tells InsideHook she’s been planning at Airbnbs since 2017, and that “the pandemic has only compounded the demand for these types of events.”
Chloe Anglin Ward, a student at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, had her wedding at Casa De Gilbert, a picturesque Airbnb in Downtown Gilbert, Arizona, this past April. “I originally had my wedding venue set for a resort. But with COVID, the masking policy there wouldn’t allow for any dancing because of social distancing. I was going to have to cut my guest list in half, and it overall just wasn’t the feel for the day that I wanted it to be,” she tells InsideHook. “So I wanted to find an alternative option that was going to make my day super small and intimate and allow us to safely enjoy our wedding. I really didn’t want my wedding to be another COVID casualty.”
After her sister proposed looking into Airbnb as a possible alternative, Gilbert found Casa De Gilbert and fell in love with the property, which boasts clean white walls, a glistening pool, an interesting wall of potted plants and the very Instagrammable phrase “You are right where you’re supposed to be” plastered on one wall.
“I just thought it was so beautiful, and it kind of was the perfect excuse to have a small and intimate wedding without hurting people’s feelings, especially extended family and people like that. And it was just absolutely perfect.”
Beyond the COVID-19 flexibility (and an excuse to not have to invite the second cousin you barely know), Hernandez notes that there are a number of reasons why betrothed couples are opting for home rentals.
“Airbnbs can be — but are not always — a less expensive option. They provide lodging and a venue in one location, there are tons of unique options in beautiful places and they are much more intimate for those looking to do smaller weddings, which is really what’s trending right now: smaller weddings, in general, wherever they take place,” she says.
Many Airbnbs, VRBOs and other short-rental properties also provide the unique, aesthetically pleasing backdrops most people crave posing in front of for their Instagram posts. Nashville, Austin, Arizona, Palm Springs: all are currently the hot-spot destinations for bachelorette and bachelor parties, bridal showers and weddings — and the Airbnb listings prove it. Take this bachelorette-party-ready Palm Springs’ rental complete with neon signs, funky wallpaper and poolside lounge chairs.
“Especially in Arizona, I know there are Airbnbs that specifically cater to bachelorette parties. They have specific ones for brides-to-be and bridal showers. And they really try to set the mood and set the vibe,” says Ward. “I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to continue to go to a place that’s basically pre-set up for you. I mean, the overall aesthetic of [our wedding day] was free because Casa De Gilbert made itself look that way. So my touch-up work was very minimal.”
The flexibility, intimacy and discounted decoration budget are all huge pros, but there are a few cons when hosting your espousal at a short-term rental. For one, you have to remember that you are in someone’s house, and likely someone’s neighborhood.
“When you’re in Airbnbs, you have to remember that there’s people living around you. You’re most likely in a neighborhood or something like that. The venue is not strictly for weddings. So your music cutoff is going to be a lot sooner,” says Ward. “Mine was at 10 p.m., which worked, but they did tell us, ‘You will have the Gilbert police called on you if you don’t have your music off by 10:00.’”
Plus, cat’s out of the bag when it comes to this whole Airbnb thing — not just for celebrating momentous life events, but for those working remotely since the pandemic started. That, in turn, has driven up demand among the most desirable properties. “Everyone has been renting Airbnbs to change up their work-from-home scenery or get away safely, so availability has been more limited,” says Hernandez.
Then there’s the little fact that Airbnb, in particular, has put a worldwide ban on events at their properties and limited the capacity to 16 people, regardless of whether a property can sleep more. It was the right decision in the midst of a pandemic, but as Hernandez mentions, it makes “planning events at Airbnbs a little more of a challenge.”
There are ways to get around the policy (which was enacted in August 2020), like conducting business outside of Airbnb. Still, breaking the rules means running the risk of getting booted from the platform entirely: the policy states that both hosts and guests can have their accounts and listings removed if caught throwing parties and events. So if you’re interested in using a short-term rental for your big day, Hernandez recommends checking out VRBO as well, whose rules and cancellation policies have been a bit more lenient.
With COVID-19 restrictions lifting across the country and normal life swiftly unfolding again in front of our eyes, can we expect this new style of wedding to stay? Hernandez thinks so.
“The pandemic has a lot to do with how mainstream elopements and intimate weddings have become. In many places, this was your only option for the past year. That being said, there was a huge demand before COVID for these types of weddings and I think there will still be even when they’re not ‘trendy’ anymore,” she notes. “What the pandemic has really done is expand our minds and help re-imagine what weddings can look like. It’s been so cool to see businesses adjust their services and get creative. There are now so many more options for couples who never really fit into the traditional wedding mold.”
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