Backyard weddings can be beautiful, meaningful celebrations of the love you and your fiancé have for each other. They also take a lot of work and are not always as cost-saving as couples expect them to be. To plan a picture-perfect backyard wedding, make sure you add these items to all of the other must-do items on your planning checklist.
1. Create Your Guest List
Your guest list will be limited by the space you have available. This is especially true if you’ll be hosting both your ceremony and your reception in your backyard. Just like any other venue, you will need room for an altar, seating, serving, dancing and vendors. After you choose a wedding planner, caterer and rental company, ask them for their professional opinion on the subject. They’ll be able to tell you if your estimated number of guests is reasonable for your space.
2. Hire Vendors
You’ll need all the same vendors as a more traditional venue, including caterer, photographer, music, florist, etc. When booking vendors, let them know that you’re planning a backyard wedding so they can prepare appropriately. They will probably want to visit your space ahead of your wedding day to get a better idea of the space they’re working with.
Double-check that your preferred officiant can perform marriage ceremonies in a backyard. Some churches do not allow their officiants to preside over unions outside of the church.
3. Rent Supplies
One of the biggest hurdles for couples getting married in their backyard is renting all of the equipment they’ll need for the big day. Start with tables and chairs (for both the ceremony and reception). Then, consider place settings and glassware, as well as linens. You’ll need additional lighting, a bar and serving stations, a dance floor, altar or arch, and extra garbage cans.
A tent is a necessity, no matter what climate you live in, as is a backup plan for inclement weather. To keep guests comfortable, you may also want to consider umbrellas and misters or portable propane heaters.
Depending on your situation there may be two additional large rental items: portable restrooms and a generator.
4. Guarantee Water Access
There’s no one-size-fits all solution for getting water to your guests and vendors during a backyard wedding. Work with your caterer and other vendors to decide the best way to access ample clean water throughout your celebration.
5. Purchase Insurance
When you hold your wedding at a venue, their insurance usually covers your event. Make sure that your home and vendors are protected against damage and liability. Communicate with your vendors so you know what their coverage entails. Determine what your homeowners’ insurance covers. Purchase additional event insurance for any extra coverage you may need.
6. File for Permits
In residential areas, large events may need to be permitted. Make sure you file the proper event, noise and health permits so your wedding isn’t interrupted by law enforcement. Even if there aren’t any permit requirements in your neighborhood, inform local police that you’ll be hosting a large event and dedicate a responsible member of your family or wedding party as a contact person in case of any complaints.
7. Inform the Neighbors
You can limit the numbers of complaints by kindly informing your neighbors when your wedding will be taking place. It is also worth politely asking them to keep their own noise level down, especially during your ceremony. Be sure to thank them afterward!
8. Dedicate Parking Space
Figure out how many cars can comfortably fit in your driveway and on the roadside without inconveniencing the neighbors. Suggest ride sharing, taxis and carpooling for local friends and family. Ask your out-of-town guests to use the shuttle you provide from their hotel.
9. Prepare Your Property
To make sure your home and yard are at their best for your big day, start preparing them early. This is an excellent reason to make home repairs, touch up paint and invest in landscaping. Even if you don’t plan to make any drastic changes, plant flowers and grass months in advance. You may also want to treat your property to prevent bothersome bugs.
In the week leading up to your backyard wedding, prepare your home. Clean, mark areas as off-limit to guests and hide valuables. If there is no reason for people to be in your home, consider locking the doors.
10. Book a Spot at the Kennel
Even if your dog(s) and other animals are well behaved, the commotion of a backyard wedding may stress them out. Extend their stay at the boarding facility to cover both your honeymoon and wedding day.
11. Recruit a Cleanup Crew
Hire an attendant for your wedding reception to keep an eye on the restrooms and garbage bins. After your guests go home, you’ll be left with a mess no matter how considerate your friends and family are. Hire a cleanup crew or ask family members to contribute a bit of time to return your backyard to its beautiful pre-wedding state.