Whether you are getting married in your backyard or someone else’s backyard, a wedding at a private home can provide the most unique and intimate location for your special day.
When planning a backyard wedding there are a few easy to forget details that can make your day go from unforgettable to disastrous.
Here are a few backyard wedding tips to make sure you day goes off without a hitch.
Power -- “There Go the lights”
Ever imagine having your last dance in the dark? Or how about no last dance at all because the D.J. has no power to play any music? Often times couples don’t think about power when planning a wedding.
A hotel, country club or restaurant was built to host events and have lots of power, but a private home was typically not built for entertaining, they are built for living in. Generators are necessary almost 80% of the time. A typical home may be able to accommodate a D.J. or some twinkle lights, but once you add a photo booth, coffee service or some lighting you will be out of business and in the dark on your wedding day.
Trust me, it’s worth the investment!
Neighbors -- “knock, knock…. POLICE?”
So it's your wedding day and you are at the peak of the moment blasting your favorite Beyoncé tunes with your ladies on the dance floor and there is a knock on the door...it's your local police officer saying you are having complaints and need to shut down the music.
WHAT??? It's my wedding day!!!
It's 8:30 pm and now you have to turn your party down or even worse, shut down your wedding altogether. Yes, this may sound crazy but it can happen if you do not follow a few simple steps. First, inform all your neighbors. Bring them a bottle wine or even invite them if you want, just don’t ignore them, that's the worst thing you can do.
If you haven’t told them it’s a wedding they may think it’s a high school party or some other type of social gathering and once the complaint has been made there is nothing you can do about it. The cops will be by all night until your last guest leaves. Neighbors are people and people love and embrace weddings so pay them a visit and be extra neighborly.
Second, call your local police department and let them know you are having a wedding. Give them as many details as you can:
- Where will guests be parking?
- How many people will be attending?
- What time will the event be over?
Provide them with a direct contact (not you) in case there is a complaint so that you can monitor the amplification of the music and be proactive.
Lighting -- “what am I eating...is this beef or chicken?”
So you decided to have a beautiful backyard garden wedding that goes into the late hours of the night. Just because you have had dinner on your patio doesn’t mean you don’t need to add any lighting for a dinner of 100. Candles only provide ambiance, they are not a source of light. I can't even count the number of times I have heard couples say they don’t want to spend a couple hundred dollars on lighting and that the candles on the tables will be sufficient. Pro-tip: it's not sufficient...please invest in lighting, your guests will appreciate it.
People like to see whom they are talking to and also what they are eating so don’t deprive your guests of that. Lighting is part of the experience, so if $300 is over your budget, then cut $300 out of floral or dessert. But don’t let you guests eat in the dark.
Parking -- “ We missed the ceremony and still haven’t found a place to park”
Residential neighborhoods were not built with parking lots. Therefore, having a parking and transportation plan is a necessity when planning a backyard wedding. If there is limited street parking then you need to find a parking lot, close in proximity for guests to park, and then shuttle them to the location.
If you decide to have them park in an off-site lot, make sure you have permission from the lot. You cannot just assume it will be okay to take over an empty lot. The last thing you want is for your guest to leave your wedding and get back to their car and realize their car is not there. Churches, Elementary schools, and shopping centers are great resources. If you are going to provide valet, make sure the valet company has come out to the house and checked out the neighborhood in advance(very important). They can let you know right away how many cars they can park without having any issues.
Restrooms -- “OMG, the toilet has overflowed and we are on a septic!!!”
Remember the movie “Meet the Parents” when, well you know the part where the wedding rehearsal was ruined by a septic issue? Well, this is very much a real issue and something to consider when having a backyard wedding. If the home is on a septic system it can’t handle being used by 100+ guests over and over in a 5 hour time period. You need to bring in those lovely portable restrooms. I don’t care how ugly you think they are. Would you rather have your beautiful reception covered in…… well you know what? Yeah, I didn't think so.
I may have stressed you out by reading this(sorry about that), but at the end of the day, backyard weddings are the most beautiful, intimate, unforgettable events that both you and your guests will never forget. You can’t have a backyard wedding in a hotel but you can make a backyard into an incredible wedding venue. Remember, it is all about your celebration and keeping the stress as low as possible. With proper planning and a team of experts on your side, eliminating 99% of the stress on your special day is definitely possible.
Are you planning a backyard wedding or know someone that is or has? Please share your thoughts in the comments below, we would love to hear from you...