Backyard weddings are growing in popularity as small affairs are becoming the trend. Personally, we couldn’t love the idea any more as they feel so intimate, personal and like a true celebration of the love you share and the family you are creating together.
And while you get to save a little money by not having to rent a venue, there are a few other considerations you need to plan for when throwing a backyard wedding. Especially with non traditional wedding locales, some special attention needs to be paid to details you wouldn’t necessarily worry about elsewhere. We’re outlining the top details you need to pay extra attention to below to ensure you have the backyard wedding of your dreams.
- Parking: Think about it. Most homes only have enough driveway space for 2-4 vehicles. By the time you have your car plus your parents and bridal party, you’re out of room. Where are your vendors and guests supposed to park? While having them park along the street may sound like a good idea, there will be a lot of cars and by the time everyone arrives, guests could have to walk a pretty good distance to get to your house. Consider finding a large parking lot nearby that will allow you to use the space on a Saturday night (churches, schools, and stores are good options). Instruct guests to park there and hire transportation to take them back and forth. Or, hire a valley that will take the car from your guest upon arrival and drive it to the lot then retrieve it at the end of the night.
- Bathrooms: Bathrooms are the number one thing not planned for with a backyard wedding. You may think that guests can just use the bathroom in your house but depending on the size of your home, there may not be enough. Plus, do you really want all of those people trancing through your house? Look into portable bathroom rentals (much nicer than porta-potties) that can be set up in your driveway.
- Weather Plan: Yes, you have to have a weather plan even if you aren’t getting married in the backyard. But, with a backyard wedding, you need to give it a little more consideration. With most venues, even if you elect to have your ceremony and/or reception outside, there is typically an indoor facility you can utilize in case of rain. Not at your house. Additionally, depending on the time of year you are planning to get married, you may want to have a plan for temperature extremes like scorching hot and freezing cold. Look into rentals for big fans or outdoor heaters in case the weather looks unfavorable on wedding day.
- Electrical/Lighting: You’ll want to make sure there is enough light in your yard to both, whether it is existing or you rent lighting. A big portion of this is ensuring you have an appropriate number of outlets on the exterior of your home to plug them all in. In addition to the lights needing power, vendors like your DJ or band will also need access. If you are concerned about not having enough outlets or potentially blowing a fuse (this should really be looked into!), a generator may be a good option for you.
- Yard Condition: You’ll want to take a walk around your yard and be on the lookout for holes, roots, and not level surfaces. The last thing you want is a guest in heels tripping or a table toppling over from sitting on a hill. Also, be aware of your yard surfaces after any major weather system. If you notice standing water after a big storm or muddy ground a few days later, think about adding more hard surfaces to your yard. With backyard weddings, it’s always a good idea to allocate a small portion of your wedding budget to improving the conditions of the area your ceremony and reception will take place.
- City/Neighborhood Sound Ordinances: Depending on the location of your backyard wedding (proximity to neighbors, inside city limits, etc), this may or may not apply to you. If you live inside city limits or a subdivided neighborhood, you may be subject to sound ordinances preventing you from playing outside music past a certain decibel level or time. Before settling on a backyard wedding, check your city ordinances to be sure you are in compliance. It’s also smart (and neighborly!) to notify your neighbors that you will be having a wedding and how late you expect it to last to give them time to make other arrangements for the night if they don’t want to be kept up.
- Space: This might seem obvious but, trust me, you’ll want to pay special attention to this section. When it comes to space for a backyard wedding, you need to think not only about the number of people that you are inviting, but also the layout. You need to make sure there is room for your ceremony (including aisle, chairs, and alter area), reception guest tables, dance floor, bar, food tables, and a gift table. The amount of space needed will vary based on the number of guests you have but you don’t want everything to feel cramped and like you have no where to move.
For all of you planning a backyard wedding, I hope these tips help. For those of you who have already planned your backyard wedding, what tips can you share with couples just starting to plan?
*Photo by Ryan Flynn