We absolutely adore backyard wedding and events here at Venuelust, but outdoor events don’t always go as planned. Issues can arise when you aren’t hosting your event inside a traditional event venue ballroom. From braving the elements to keeping guests comfortable, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. Here are our top backyard wedding + event mistakes to avoid.
One of the biggest mistakes I commonly see with backyard weddings and events is a combination of two things. One, most backyards are typically filled with...surprise!... grass. Two, most women tend to wear heels to formal events. Put these two together and you have a rather messy result. If you’re lucky and have a large deck or patio that can accommodate everyone for your event reception, then great! But if you’re like most of us, you’re probably wondering how to make do with the space you have.
Unless you warn your guests not to wear heels (and hey, maybe you should!) then you should probably rent flooring to cover most of the grassy event areas. If you can’t afford to put flooring in throughout the whole dining area, then you should get yourself a large dance floor. Not a small one, a large one. The larger the dance floor, the better. Guests that aren’t dancing can stand on the flooring to mingle and even pull up a chair or two on the perimeter. I can’t tell you how uncomfortable it makes me when I see women walking through grass and getting their shoes stuck with every single step. Eventually, guests may remove their shoes completely, but best make everyone as comfortable as possible for as long as possible.
Amenities for Guests
Don't assume that every guest will come prepared for anything and everything for your backyard event. You're the expert when it comes to your venue, so provide guests with the knowledge of what they need to prepare for, or provide those amenities for them. Guests will be eternally grateful if you provide them with the little things they may have forgotten. If it's going to be a cool day or evening, provide shawls or blankets. Sunny days call for custom sunglasses and sunscreen. Are bugs an issue at your backyard venue? Provide bug spray or citronella candles. For tired and sore feet, provide flip flops. For women who wore heels, provide plastic heel covers to prevent them from sinking into the ground.
White, cream, and gold linens are incredibly popular with the wedding crowd. I know it is so tempting to rent linens that are light in color because they make everything else on your table pop, but I'm here to tell you to avoid them.
Depending on where you live, your summers may be filled with all sorts of interesting insects that you just can’t get rid of no matter what. I’ve seen light linens stained by all sorts of strange bug poop (for lack of a better term). Little yellow and brown dots seem to appear like magic on event day without fail. White linens can’t mask the stains, but dark linens can.
One of my biggest pet peeves is actually when vendors dirty the linens before the guests even arrive. For example, a florist may have a gorgeous arrangement ready to be placed in the center of the table, but they just place it on the edge of the table at first. If they haven’t carefully cleaned the bottom of the vase and then scoot the arrangement into the center, you’re left with a floral arrangement skidmark all across that gorgeous white linen. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really leave any time for you to wash or replace the linen, so you’re left with a strange stain that guests have to stare at the entire evening.
Sure, your linens aren’t going to stay clean the entire evening. Guests will spill food and red wine all over them (that is pretty much guaranteed), but when you use dark linens you can at least mask most of these stains and they’ll look better in photographs.
If you want to avoid linens all together, rent specialty wooden farm tables. They are easy to clean, simple in design, and will rid you of linen issues completely!
Always have a tent back up plan in case of rain. I know, I know. A tent kind of defeats the purpose of having a backyard event, right? When you’re under one, you might hardly see the estate at all, but it can be necessary in case of inclement weather. When renting a tent, choose a larger sized tent so that there is plenty of room for guests and vendors to move around. A tent that is too small will leave you feeling like sardines in a can, so when in doubt, get the larger size. Tents come in all shapes, styles, and sizes, so you can even find a tent that gives you all the benefits (shade, protection from rain, etc.) but still fits with your event theme.
A tent can be a huge budget buster, so don’t leave it to the last minute to plan what one you need and be left with a bill you can’t afford. Get quotes early on in your planning process so you know what to expect. If you do choose to wait til the last minute, know that you may be limited to what is still in stock and not your first choice option of style, size or price.
Bathrooms are bound to face heavy traffic during the course of the party and you better be ready for it. Sure you have two restrooms available for 100 guests, but that’s probably not enough. What happens when someone clogs a toilet, or gets sick and hogs the bathroom from other guests? I know it isn’t ideal, but always rent portable toilets. These can be anything from traditional port-a-potties to luxury restroom trailers. Whichever type you choose is up to you, but you’re going to need the extra toilets to avoid lines and uncomfortable guests.
If you opt for the luxury restroom trailers, a generator is needed to keep the electricity and flushing features going all night. Chances are guests will be more likely to use a portable restroom if they have all the pleasantries that they are used to. Renting a nicer facility will not only look better but will be utilized more. Make sure to provide a hand-washing station too!
You’ll also need someone in charge of bathroom duty to constantly check in to restock bathroom amenities as needed, empty trash or replace hand towels, etc.
One of the most frequent issues we see in the event planning business are issues regarding power. If you don’t know how many amps each of your vendors requires, you may be in a bit of a pickle. Trust me when I say there will always be someone that requires a lot more power than you initially thought. Your DJ may have a whole light show to go with their musical playlist, or the caterer may need to plug in all sorts of appliances from a coffee maker to a stove. How much lighting are you providing?
Check to see what your house can handle, but plan to rent a generator to make things a lot easier on you. The last thing you want is to overload your circuit breaker causing the power to go out and forcing someone to fumble around to reset it. Talk about awkward!
So you’re looking at the forecast and it is supposed to be 85 degrees on your wedding day. What are you to do? Hopefully, you’ve followed earlier advice and rented a tent (with air conditioning). Tenting is the best way to keep guests cool or protected from the elements. But if you didn’t...you’re going to need a plan to keep your guests cool and comfortable for the day and into the evening. Umbrellas, parasols, cabanas, canopies, fans (paper and electric), are just some of the many options you have.
On a particularly hot day, you’ll also need to find a cool place to store your flowers, cake and anything else that may wither or melt in the heat. If your cake can’t be delivered just before cake cutting, then you’ll need to make sure you have space available in the refrigerator to accommodate your cake. Otherwise, you will have a melted mess if it stays out all day.
If you’ve rented lounge furniture, some fabrics may absorb heat tremendously so keep that in mind when selecting pieces or figuring out where to arrange them. You may want to put that pleather couch somewhere in the shade instead of direct sunlight.
Plan your wedding ceremony for a cooler time during the day. Research weather patterns from previous years around your wedding date. If the hottest point of the day is at 12pm, think about hosting your wedding ceremony at 4pm instead.
Just because it will be a hot day, doesn’t mean you can forget about the lower temperatures in the evening. Rent heaters to take away the evening chill when the sun finally sets. Every table should have one or two propane heaters to keep everyone at a comfortable temperature. Make sure to have extra propane tanks available in case one runs out. It is also better to rent more than needed in case you have a few that don’t work correctly.
If you’re inviting 100 guests to your backyard estate wedding, you should anticipate the need to have at least 50 parking spots available for guests and vendors. Since you’re hosting your event in a residential area, you need to think about the logistics about where guests will park and how many cars can be accommodated. I highly recommend hiring a valet or shuttle service. When you hire a valet service they can come out to estimate how many cars can be accommodated in the area. If there isn’t enough parking in the neighborhood, you’ll want to contact a nearby parking lot (schools and churches are great starting points) to see if you can make a donation in order to use that lot for extra cars.
Shuttle service is an even better idea. To prevent parking issues, hire a shuttle service to pick up and drop off guests at the hotels that you’ve booked room blocks at. This can prevent drinking and driving, guests getting lost, and irritated neighbors who can’t find parking anywhere near their house.
In this digital age of convenience, using a car service like Uber or Lyft should also be encouraged. One thing to note is that there may not be a strong cell signal at the house so if this is the case, guests may have trouble requesting their ride home. Services like Uber allow you to schedule rides in advance for extra peace of mind. Encourage guests to schedule their Uber home in advance so that they know a car will be available to pick them up when and where they need one. This is especially important if you are renting a private estate and know that all guests have to be off the property by a specific time.
Ready for the big day? Here is your backyard wedding checklist.
Do you have any backyard event tips to add?
Please share in the comments below!