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  • Backyard Weddings: How To Plan a Backyard Wedding And Host Your Dream Reception at Home

Backyard weddings are becoming a more popular option than ever. With how charming they can be, that’s no surprise! They’re a great option for couples looking for a more intimate, personal alternative to traditional venues. They can be budget-friendly, but it is important to account for all the “extras” you’ll have to rent and bring in to host a crowd. Homes aren’t generally built to host hundreds of guests, so it’s best to plan out all the costs before you commit as for a large-scale wedding, a backyard may cost more than renting a venue. 

A backyard wedding can be as extravagant or as budget-friendly as you want it to be. When you’re planning your own event in your own space, you have a level of control that sometimes just isn’t possible with a more traditional wedding.

Of course, these perks do come with a few disadvantages. The biggest of them being that all that extra control is just that- a lot of extra responsibility. Trying to juggle everything involved with a wedding and keeping track of all the different variables yourself can be mildly overwhelming at best and disastrous at worst. There’s no need to panic, though- with the proper planning and organization, putting together a backyard wedding can be a breeze.

If you’re planning a backyard wedding, you’ll definitely want to check out our Dream Wedding Checklist course. Not only will our wedding planner extraordinaire, Giselle guide you through each step of the wedding planning process with extensive explainer videos, but you’ll get access to at-a-glance review sheets and the crucial printable wedding checklists. Our checklist is comprehensive and covers every facet of the wedding planning process.

The Basics

 The first step in planning any wedding is assessing the basics- the resources you already have, and the resources you’ll need to acquire, and anything extra you’ll need to do. Checklists are probably going to be one of your best friends at this step as you evaluate everything you need to do to get the framework of your wedding assembled. While you’re brainstorming, here’s some great places to start:

  • Assess the space you’re working with. You can start by simply measuring your backyard, garden, and any other spots that’ll be available to your guests. This will help you get an idea of how many people you can comfortably fit and allow you to start envisioning where you want everything to be. Consider the areas and how much sq. footage you have for your ceremony, cocktail hour and reception (including a dance area). Make sure it flows easily from one space to the next and there is enough room for not just the guests but for any vendors you may have such as the DJ. 
  • Take inventory of furniture. You most likely don’t have hundreds of chairs and banquet tables laying around already, but taking into account any decorations or pieces of furniture you have outside is still essential. From there, you can start making decisions on what needs to be moved around, what needs to be put away entirely, and what you can keep out without affecting your space limits. 
  • Fill in your neighbors. Before you make the big decision and commit to saying “yes” to a backyard wedding, it’s important to make sure you can. Some areas can require certain permits to use your home as your own event space for the day, so make sure to research any restrictions your home may have. Discussing your plans with the people in your neighborhood is also not only courteous but very important. This will give you and the people you live around the opportunity to talk about how the event will affect their day. It also allows you and them to set expectations as far as variables like noise and parking go.

Creating a Budget

Next, you’re going to want to look at your budget. That’s right, the dreaded “B” word. But don’t freak out just yet! Backyard weddings offer a lot of flexibility here. It all ultimately depends on what you and your future spouse want and need. When initially thinking about your budget off the top of your head, try dividing everything into three different categories: things that are essential, stuff that’s personally important to you but you’re willing to compromise on, and things that you would like if the budget runs to it but are not critical. Because everyone’s priorities (and everyone’s idea of a perfect wedding) are different, it’s hard to accurately depict what your personal budget is going to look like in a sample budget. There are, however, some things that pretty much everyone agrees are essential, like:

  • Your license and officiant. 
  • Furniture and recreation rentals- tables and chairs, ceremony chairs, silverware, tablecloths, buffet equipment, etc.
  • Flowers, landscaping, and floral arrangements.
  • Food and drink catering (as well as your cake!).
  • Wedding attire .
  • Invitations and favors 

Once you have a good idea of how much you can afford, you can really dive in and start researching the costs of all the things you need and then some. When you’re sure you’re able to have the essentials covered, you can move onto your “wants” and the things that are personally important to you and your partner, such:

  • A DJ and dance floor 
  • Photographer and videographer (or even a drone video) 
  • Lighting (If you’re planning on having your reception in the evening)
  • Entertainment 
  • Centerpieces & extra decoration

Of course, as long as you’re within your space and budget parameters, the sky’s the limit for your wedding! Hosting the event in your own space guarantees that you have the final say in what you ultimately end up doing, and that’s why backyard weddings are so attractive to so many couples- you can get as creative and personal as you want while planning them!

Other Backyard Wedding Elements to Consider 

Throughout your journey of planning your wedding, you want to make sure everything is accounted for and nothing slips through the cracks. There’s a lot to think about though, and it’s easy enough to forget to plan for something. Here’s some stuff that might not immediately come to mind, despite being equally as important as your catering arrangements and tableware rentals:

Landscaping


You probably want your lawn to be looking it’s greenest and most lush the day of your wedding, so it’s a good idea to start working on nurturing it and hiring any needed landscaping services in the months leading up to the event. Landscaping doesn’t just apply to cosmetics. It’s also super important to make sure there’s nothing in your yard that could cause trouble or injuries, like a rogue ditch or anything embedded in the ground that someone could trip and fall over. Don’t forget lighting. If your event will run into the evening, you’ll need to plan out the lighting design and how it will be powered. Lighting will not only give you those gorgeous glowing wedding photos and romantic settings, but it is also essential once the sun goes down so guests can safely see.

 

Kitchen

If you’re hiring a catering team to make and prep your food on site, you may want to consider expanding your kitchen space. There’s only so much room inside of your house, and if your team is more than just a few people it’s likely that you’ll run into problems like overcrowding and lack of equipment and resources.

 

To prevent a kitchen nightmare, look into renting a tent that can function as an outdoor extension to your kitchen. Some catering companies even offer these services themselves, so communicate directly with your team to evaluate what needs to be done to give them the space they need to make your food offerings a hit with guests.


Bathrooms

Unless you have multiple bathrooms in your home or an especially small guest list, you will probably need to consider bringing in additional restroom facilities. And we’re not talking about the kind of regular porta potties you see at music festivals and parks.

 

For a wedding you are going to need more of a VIP style restroom trailer that is equipped with all the necessities and comforts that a home bathroom would, like running water and a toilet that flushes. These units come in varying sizes and can be a little pricey. They can guide you with regard to your guest count and the recommended number of restrooms needed.


Power

Chances are your home just can’t accommodate the amount of electricity it’ll take to keep your party going (unless you’re going super low-key). To prevent the chance of you and your neighbors’ power being overloaded and going out, it’s probably in your best interest to rent a generator for the event. Luckily, this usually isn’t too costly and is definitely worth the peace of mind of knowing that your festivities won’t be cut short by a lack of electricity


Insurance

Your event happening on your property means that you make the rules and control pretty much everything. But it also means that if something happens on your property, you’re going to be held responsible for it. That’s why getting event insurance is so important. A lot of people aren’t even aware something like a backyard wedding can be insured, but they can and should!

 

Insurance can cover everything from potential accidents and injuries that happen at the event to any extra expenses you might encounter — like inclement weather, or needing to replace damaged items. If you’re hiring any vendors or contractors, it’s also important to make sure they have their own liability insurance policies in place too.


Parking

If you have a large property this may not be an issue for you, but for those in the suburbs and urban areas it can be a real pain to figure out. If you’re short on street parking space or parking on your property, scout your immediate area for any parking lots that don’t see a lot of use. However, it’s important to make sure that nobody will have a problem with the spaces being taken up for the day. A parking lot at a local park or recreation center is probably your best bet. If using this option, you’ll need to consider renting a shuttle or hiring a valet service.


Cleanup

Unfortunately, every party has to come to an end eventually. With that final day comes everyone’s least favorite part of the whole event: the cleanup. It doesn’t have to be a major hassle, though. You can streamline the process by renting and keeping several garbage receptacles strategically placed throughout your space to encourage your guests to keep things looking nice as they go. Alternatively, if you have the room in your budget you could even book a professional cleanup team. In that case, all you have to do after the fact is sit back, relax, and enjoy being a newlywed!

Easy Backyard Wedding Ideas

A backyard wedding can be casually chic and filled with unexpected touches that you just couldn’t pull off in a classic reception hall. Here are seven of our favorite backyard wedding ideas to bring out the beauty of your outdoor space

  1. 1
    Glamp it up. Tents, canopies and umbrellas (all gorgeously lit) can transform a plain backyard into a rustic elegant retreat. 
  2. 2
    Rent a tree. Want to feel like you’re getting married in a woodland oasis, but only have a bare backyard? Event rental companies are ready to turn your outdoor space into everything from a field of roses to a tropical paradise with live foliage options.
  3. 3
    Go communal. Think of the possibilities for a glamorous picnic wedding. Rather than individual tables and chairs, benches and community tables can be the perfect complement to an outdoor ceremony and take up far less space.
  4. 4
    Bring the indoors out. A gorgeous velvet sofa, an elegant centerpiece table, there’s no limit to the variety of furniture you can rent for your event. It will make for wedding photos straight from a magazine and be true conversation starters.
  5. 5
    Bring on the lawn games. Rent big beautiful versions of Connect Four, shuffle board or chess. Not only will they add to the decor of your event but they’ll make an easy way to keep guests entertained.
  6. 6
    Add in privacy. You don’t need to go through planting large shrubs just to gain privacy for one day. Rent grass backdrops that will make the perfect places for guests to pose for pictures.
  7. 7
    Embrace the outdoors. Wood burned signs, burlap bows, and wicker baskets create the perfect outdoor decor. Incorporate useful items that guests may need like sun umbrellas, bug spray and sunblock in decorative garden containers.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all there is to think about when planning your backyard wedding? It’s okay, your day is going to be amazing. To calm your worries without missing a single detail, sign up for the Dream Wedding Checklist course. Experienced and acclaimed wedding planner and host Giselle guides you through video lessons on every facet of wedding planning. The Dream Wedding Checklist also includes downloadable review sheets and a full printable checklist that will become a lifesaver during every phase of your planning process.

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