Planning the perfect backyard wedding is no small feat. We’ve gathered up the best advice to help make your dream a reality. From reasons to host a backyard wedding to our ultimate checklist to run through before your celebration, we’ve got it all right here!

Everything you’ve ever needed to know about planning your backyard wedding:

  1. Reasons Why You Should Have A Backyard Wedding
  2. How To Make The Most Of Your Backyard For Your Wedding
  3. Why Timing Is Important For A Backyard Wedding
  4. Top Backyard Wedding + Event Mistakes To Avoid
  5. The Outdoor Wedding Planning Guide Checklist
  6. How To Properly Prepare Your Home For The Big Day (Backyard Wedding Checklist)

backyard wedding venue

1. Reasons to Host a Backyard Wedding

Backyard weddings are unique, intimate and empowering, and even if your own backyard isn't suitable that doesn't have to stop you. Thankfully, there are plenty of gorgeous venues with backyards to boot just waiting to play host to your special day. Yes, backyard weddings come with their own set of challenges, and no they are not for everyone, but if you're undecided then here are a few reasons why a backyard wedding might be your dream come true:

It's Convenient

Having your wedding in your own backyard, or someone else's for that matter, is convenient for both you and your guests. You'll have a comfortable place to get dressed and celebrate with all your maids before saying your I do's, you won't have to worry about arriving late as you'll already be there, and you won't have to stress over stuffing everything into the car (yourself included!) Another plus for everyone invited is a single location for your ceremony and reception, which cuts travel time and hassle.

Freedom to Select Any Date

Forget about having to book your venue a year in advance just to guarantee the date you want. By hosting a backyard wedding the power is in your hands and you can select any date that works for you. Additionally, your budget won't be affected by when you choose to host the event - in other words, you can have that Saturday wedding after all!

Complete Control of the Space

If you want complete control over your wedding then a backyard affair is the way to go. Most venues will have their own set rules and regulations for the space, leaving little room for going beyond the norms in terms of decoration, layout and scheduling. For creative couples that want to curate the day exactly as you see fit, having your wedding in a backyard will give you the freedom you need.

Write Your Own Rules

Once you have checked with the town about any permits or ordinances that may be required for the area you're hosting your backyard do, you can write your own rules for the entire event. Whether that means hosting your dinner before the ceremony and then saying your vows under the stars, or letting loose with lawn games, you'll have more flexibility to do something outside of the familiar and stray from the accustomed wedding program.

Decorate However You Want

Perhaps you want to hang lanterns in the trees, or maybe you've always dreamed of lighting sparklers come nightfall, if you're a crafty bride (like me) it makes sense to want to host your wedding in a space which allows you to decorate as you see fit. When you're not being restricted by limits you can truly bring your wedding vision to life - no matter how specific the decorations.

More Menu Flexibility

Traditional venues often give you the choice of 2 or 3 dishes for your main course, which may or may not be to your taste. Having a backyard wedding allows you the liberty to think outside the box and open up the menu options and enjoy something much more exciting. From having your favorite food catered by a specialty cook to going potluck style with food prepared by friends and family, you can indulge in whatever food you desire.

Ability to Work With Small Local Vendors

Many venues only allow you to work with an approved list of vendors which makes life difficult if you've got your heart set on working with smaller, local or organic style vendors. This means you friend who has just started her very own catering company and would love to give you an amazing deal is out the question, especially if she doesn't have a licence. If traditional caterers, florists and bakeries are not your thing, then you may want to think about opting for a backyard wedding where you can work with whoever you want.

Venue At Your Fingertips

Backyard weddings eliminate the need for rushing around trying to get everything in order the day of. With the venue at your fingertips, you'll already be settled in with time to spare well before the actual event rolls around. This means you can start prepping as soon as you like as you'll be able to come and go as you please and can experiment with what works and what doesn't in the available space.

You Can DIY Like Crazy

Vintage plates that you've picked up at the thrift store to burlap wedding banners and pompoms hanging from handmade archways, all your awesome DIY wedding ideas can come together and work beautifully in a backyard setting. If you've got a list of DIY projects that you just can't do without then don't try to hold your creative spirit back by choosing a venue that won't compliment your DIY prowess.

Extra Help From Family & Friends

When you choose to host a backyard wedding you may not have staff to serve you like at a hall, but you will have plenty of friends and family willing to lend a hand and demonstrate their areas of expertise. Whether you need help with the flower arrangements, hanging decorations or the not so fun stuff like cleaning up at the end of the day, you won't be short of people eager to help out in any way they can.

Intimate Setting

Intimate, cozy, charming: three perfect words to describe backyard weddings. There's just something about being close to home and close to those you hold nearest and dearest that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Even if you don't host the actual wedding in your own backyard, you'll still have a lovely home to retreat to before, during and after the big day.

Outside Weddings Are Beautiful

You don't have to jet off to some exotic location to have a beautiful backdrop for your wedding day. Sure sandy beaches and mountains are nice, but so are the trees and flowers in bloom in your own backyard. Another plus to hosting your wedding outside is letting mother nature take the lead where decorations are concerned, making your job a whole lot less complicated. backyard wedding venues

2. How to make the most of your backyard for your wedding

For those brides that envision their big day taking place in a warm, private, welcoming setting, they may need to look no further than their own backyard. With the ability to rent a private estate or other private property for your wedding, you can bring the idea of a backyard wedding to life, even if your own backyard is not property suited to host your guest count or convey your chosen wedding style. Read on to discover some of our best tips on how to make your backyard wedding a success.

Add Charm to Organic Elements

By adding thoughtful details to trees, landscaping, and other outdoor settings, you can elevate your wedding's aesthetic and theme. Hang chandeliers, flowers, candles, crystals, or framed photos from trees. Trim pathways with shepherd's hooks holding flowers and candles. Hang flower buds from a patio cover. The options for adding details are truly endless, so don't be afraid to let your creativity run wild!

Add Personal Touches

By adding personal touches, such as family photos and meaningful keepsakes,  you can transform any estate or venue into a space that feels like home. Aside from placing personal items on dining or cocktail tables, you can also replace existing items with personal ones. For example, if your venue has a collection of photos or decor that does not speak to your vision, replace them with framed engagement photos or wedding photos from your parents or grandparents.

Feature Romantic Lighting

Nothing complements a backyard or garden setting better than soft candlelight, market lighting, or chandeliers. Market Lighting is a great way to light large areas of space for a reasonable price while adding a charm that compliments almost any event theme.

Utilize Various Locations Around Your Property

With the amazing flexibility of a home or estate, you have the ability to use different locations for the different events of your wedding, rather than being confined to one ballroom. By utilizing different locations, your guests will feel as though they have fully experienced and explored your venue. backyard wedding ideas

3. Why Timing is Important for a Backyard Wedding

Timing is one of the most important puzzle pieces to a successful wedding. If you are getting married outdoors, or at a private home, figure out your timing early on. Here are a few common timing questions that might come up when planning your estate wedding.

1. What time should the wedding begin?

Plan your wedding ceremony in the late afternoon or early evening or when the sun isn’t at it’s peak. While everybody wants to get married on a nice sunny day, the sun isn’t always on your side.  It can affect your photographs, cause your guests to squint, cause your cake to melt or your flowers to wilt. An evening wedding can make things all the more pleasant.

2. How long should I wait for guests to arrive to begin the ceremony?

If you wrote on your invitation that the ceremony starts at 4pm, I recommend starting right on time or 15 minutes late at the most.  Most guests will arrive promptly or even early.  Don't make them sit out in the hot sun any longer than they have to.

3. What can I do to keep my photos after the ceremony under an hour?

Your cocktail hour is designed to entertain your guests while you take your pictures, so you'll want to keep things quick, but not sacrifice on quality.  You'll find that there will be a lot of onlookers and little privacy when you are taking your wedding pictures because of all the guests present.  This can certainly slow you down. Before the big day, plan out what pictures you want taken and inform your family and friends involved that they will be needed.  Immediately following the ceremony have your planner gather everyone needed, and take those pictures first.  Afterward, you should have a good chunk of time left to take your "couple" pictures. Save even more time by taking your "first look" pictures before the ceremony when you aren't feeling rushed.

4. How do I keep everything rolling throughout the reception?

Your planner should have a timeline outlining everything from the toasts, the first dance, bouquet toss, to your final exit.  Don't cram everything right in the beginning of the reception, you'll want to spread it out.  You may not have time for everything that you'd hoped, so make it clear as to what traditions are most important to you. If a guest needs to leave early, they may try to wait until after the cake has been cut, or after the garter toss.  If all goes according to schedule, they would be able to ask the planner what time everything will be taking place.

5. What time does my party have to end?

If you're getting married outdoors, chances are high that your party will have to end at 10pm.  Another reason to stick to the schedule as much as possible, is so that you can get the most time out of your wedding reception. For example: If your ceremony was supposed to start at 4:30pm and it didn't start until 5:30pm, that means that your cocktail hour was over around 6:30pm.  That only leaves 3 and a half hours left to eat dinner, dance, cut your cake, etc. Stick to the schedule and you'll be able to enjoy the reception more! backyard wedding planning

4. Top Backyard Wedding + Event Mistakes to Avoid

We absolutely adore backyard weddings 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.

Flooring

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.

Linens

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!

Tenting

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.

Bathroom Blunders

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 handwashing 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.

Power

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? 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 DJ 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. 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!

Temperature Control

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.

Parking

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.

Noise Ordinances

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. 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

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.

Restrooms

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. backyard wedding guide

5. Backyard Wedding Checklist: The Outdoor Wedding Planning Guide

Whether you are saying your "I Do's" in your own backyard or someone else's, this essential wedding checklist will ensure your big day is a stress free affair. From setting the stage to being a good neighbor, here are some essential things to keep in mind for backyard bliss:

Is your yard suitable for a backyard soiree?

First things first, before you do anything you need to take a critical look at your backyard to determine whether it is realistically suitable for a wedding, and if the available space is able to accommodate your guest list. If not then ask around and see if any of your friend's gardens could work or rent a private estate.

Where will your attendee's park?

If you have 150 guests you can expect anywhere up to 75 cars, which is no small number! If you don't have the option to park on your property you will have to rely on street parking or hiring a nearby lot and offering a shuttle or valet service so guests don't have to walk. If your in a residential area, and you choose to go the street parking route, then make sure you check with your town hall as there are often rules about where you can park and you may need to acquire a permit.

Will your event require any permits?

On the subject of permits before going ahead with making plans and booking vendors always do your research and find out whether your event will require any permits from the city. Whether it's for parking, for a tent, or for a restroom trailer, you'll want to make sure your bases are covered to avoid any disappointed later on.

What about noise ordinances?

If you're planning on having a DJ or band, you can't overlook the noise your event will create. Check your local noise ordinances to see what they mandate. There will be a time frame during which your DJ or band should not be playing at all, and once you know what it is you can plan your event around this and avoid any special guest appearances from the police. If bothering your neighbors is a concern then consider a DJ as bands are generally louder by nature. Of course you could always opt for an acoustic band instead!

Does your homeowner's insurance cover your event?

Get in touch with your home insurance provider and ask them whether your current policy covers your backyard event, if not then you should be able to add a special policy just for the day of. The cost is usually minimal, but with guests and vendors on your property it is best to be prudent and protect yourself against any liability.

Let your neighbors know what you are planning

About a month before the wedding let your neighbors know what you are planning, and warn them of any potential noise and disturbances. Also let them know what time your ceremony will be taking place so they won't be out with their lawn mowers or leaf blowers when your exchanging your vows! Once they know your plans, if you're lucky they might offer to lend a hand or parking space.

Renting tables, chairs and more

Unless you are having a teeny tiny wedding with just a handful of your nearest and dearest you're going to need to rent tables and chairs to accommodate everyone invited. You may also need to rent linens, glassware and dinnerware. Source vendors and meet with them to figure out the logistics of how to get everything to your property.

Borrow from your friends and family

If you need to rent everything from cutlery to candleholders costs can quickly spiral out of control, which is where your friends and family come in. Make a list of everything you need to bring your wedding vision to life then pass it round to see who might be able to help you out. Mismatched items can lend to the charm of your already unique event.

What are you doing about toilets?

By the far the least romantic thing about your wedding, but nevertheless important: toilets. You need to decide whether you are happy for your guests to use the washroom in your home, but before you do make sure you give it some serious thought. Do you want hundreds of people traipsing in and out of your home all day? Can your plumbing system take the extra stress? Renting a port-a-potty maybe a better alternative and don't worry because portable loos have gone luxe and these days many come complete with functioning sinks, full-length mirrors and lighting.

Protect yourself from the elements

Marrying out in the open can leave you exposed to the elements, and if you don't want your wedding day to become another horror story, then you'll need to have a backup plan in case the weather doesn't cooperate. Hiring a tent will not only keep you and your guests from getting wet, it will also help provide vital shade if it's a hot sunny day.

Invite your caterer over to scope out your kitchen

If you're hiring a caterer then they will need to know exactly what they've got to work with so invite them over to scope out the space and appliances well before the big day comes around. They'll need to know stove and fridge details, as well as access points to and from the kitchen and where you're guests will be eating.

Locate your nearest stores

Having a list of your local stores with directions can help avoid a major disaster in the event that something is forgotten and you need someone to dash out and stock up in an emergency.

Where are you going to put all the trash?

You would be amazed at the amount of trash that is generated at en event with 100 people. From beer cans to cigarette butts, consider renting a small dumpster, as well as placing extra trash cans around the property. To avoid having to pick up endless cigarette butts the following day have a designated smoking area complete with ashtrays or buckets filled with sand.

Keep a list of taxi services on hand

Some people tend to go a little overboard at weddings, so for those guests that end up having more than their share of alcohol be sure to keep a list of taxi services on hand that you can call in the event that a guest is unable to make their own way home.

Don't forget the cleanup crew

Make sure you have a group of people that are responsible for cleaning up after the event. Once everyone has left the property there will be a giant mess and it's usually your responsibility to stack all the chairs in a convenient place for the rental company to pick up if you want to avoid extra fees.

Have a point person for the day

Find someone you trust and appoint them with the job of being the go-to person for all your vendors throughout the duration of the event. If you prefer you can always hire a wedding coordinator who will learn all the details and take care of anything that may come up. backyard wedding checklist

6. Backyard Wedding Checklist: How to Properly Prepare your Home for the Big Day

If you’ve decided to turn your own backyard into a wedding reception venue or perhaps you’ve even rented someone else’s home for your soiree, we’ve compiled a list of items to review prior to the big day to ensure that all goes smoothly.

Choose a Date

Choosing a wedding date isn’t rocket science but there are definitely some times of the year that will make the most sense depending on where it is you’re getting married. What is the weather like throughout the year? Are there certain times of the year when the lawn and flora look best? Choosing a date goes beyond seasons too. What else is going on in your life at that time? Can you dedicate the time (and money) to fix up anything that needs fixing or updating prior to the date? Give yourself an ample time frame to make sure all projects (construction or otherwise) can be completed in time.

Capacity

Capacity isn’t quite so black and white as you’d think. Some questions to ask yourself when evaluating the capacity of your home: How large is your property? Have you ever hosted a party here before? How many people can you accommodate? What worked? What didn’t? Were there bathroom lines or did everything feel too cramped? How many people are you comfortable having at your home? Does this number differ from how many can actually fit? You may find you can accommodate 300 people if you want, but maybe you only feel comfortable with about half that number. That’s ok! Just figure out a happy medium that works for you and what you think you and your home can handle. Are there particular areas that are off limits? Will you be hosting everything outdoors or will you have some seating available indoors? When you’ve gone through all these self-evaluations  your yard and what you feel most comfortable with, you’ll need to start bringing in the professionals for their expertise. Have a professional rental company come out to measure the space so they can tell you how many guests you can accommodate for a ceremony and reception based on the tables and chairs you’re planning to use.

Arranging the Space

Not only can a professional rental company assist you with calculating the capacity, they can recommend the best arrangement of tables and chairs for the space you have available. The size of the space obviously dictates how large of an event you can host, so you may have to cut back that guest list quite a bit. But maybe that’s what you’ve wanted all along! If you can’t make cuts, you may have to get a bit creative with arrangements. For one, you can seat people in different areas of the property. Some people can be seated in the backyard and some on the side or front lawn, or even inside depending on the property. If you don’t want to break up the seating areas, you may have to transition the space completely between the ceremony and reception if your backyard isn’t large enough to provide seating for both. This can be a bit of a logistical puzzle, and you will need all hands on deck to move tables and decor into the yard after the ceremony has taken place.

Breaking through Limitations

Not every yard is perfect for entertaining from the get go. Sometimes modifications can be made to make it work - both permanent and temporary! Does your lawn slope? You can rent staging which can extend from your lawn to create one large flat space. Have a pool? Cover it! Covering the pool will create more event space. If you choose a clear cover your pool lighting can make things more colorful and interesting. Especially if you make the pool your dance floor! Don’t have any shade in the backyard? Rent umbrellas. Lots of them. Worried about rain? Rent a tent if you have the space. A tent can be a great way to keep guests covered in case of bad weather. Tents can come in a number of shapes and sizes so ask a professional about what they recommend for your yard. Some tent options can extend from your own roof, others are freestanding. If tenting isn’t an option and you want to gather everyone indoors for the reception, call on your local furniture removal specialists. Get a quote for the removal of your furniture in the spaces you would like to use as dining areas.

Parking

Now that you’ve figured out your capacity, is there enough space for your guests to park in your neighborhood? Think about how many cars may be arriving for this occasion. If you have 100 guests, it may be safe to assume you’ll need space for about 50 cars. Beyond guest parking you’ll also need to consider that your vendors and the catering and bar staffing will also require parking. In order to make things simple for guests, offer valet services or shuttle options to arrive at your home. If you have elderly guests, this is especially helpful so they don’t have to park several blocks away from your home. If you have a nearby parking lot that belongs to a school or church, you can contact them to see if you can offer a donation to rent the lot so valet can park cars here or guests can be shuttled in from this lot. If neighborhood parking is limited, your neighbors will certainly appreciate this.

Declutter your Space

Do you have tons of potted plants or lawn furniture that you can move out of the way? Keep the space open and neat because chances are you’ll need to bring in a lot of other rental items and decor. Put away any valuables indoors that could be broken or stolen. Lock any doors to rooms that don’t need to be accessed during the party to prevent prying eyes.

Home Improvements

Sometimes temporary even alterations aren’t enough and you need some more permanent solutions. Do you have a hole in your fence? When was the last time your gardener trimmed trees and hedges? Do you need to power wash the patio? Now is the time to start fixing what is broken or finishing up that landscaping project that you forgot about. Now is the time to water the lawn to get rid of dead patches, remove any weeds, and fill in flower beds with new blooms!

Rent what you don’t have

Now that you’ve fixed up the yard and had the space measured, you’ll want to rent anything that you don’t already have. This includes anything from tables and chairs, linens, lounge furniture, and decor. How many bathrooms do you have at your house? Will they be able to handle high traffic? We recommend 1 restroom for every 60 guests, but even that means your guests will often be waiting in a short line at any given time. While no one likes portable restrooms, there are luxury restroom trailers that can be a bit relief for both guests and your home’s plumbing system. Don’t forget to rent heaters or air conditioning if they’re needed. Nothing ends parties early quite like an overly hot or cold event space. Rent plenty of heaters for cool evenings and if you have a tented reception in the peak of summer, you want to be sure that tent has an air conditioning unit. Without these, guests may be inclined to head home early out of discomfort. Another overlooked item when creating a rental list: trash cans. Trash has to go somewhere so rent some trash cans and also be ready with a plan of disposal afterward. Because the last thing you want to have left at the house are a dozen trash bags filled with food scraps from the caterer and every glass bottle of beer from the bar.

Consider your Guests' Needs

Are there any special needs that need to be accommodated? If someone is in a wheelchair and your home isn’t particularly wheelchair friendly, you may need to rent a ramp to make it as accessible as possible. Do you have pets that some guests may be allergic to? Take precautions and have the pets crated or taken to a daycare or overnight facility so that they don’t bother guests. Elderly guests should have priority seating and parking if possible. Be sure to have a bathroom available on the ground floor of your home so they don’t have to take any stairs.

Stock Up

From bathroom materials, a first aid kit, flashlights, matches, ashtrays, etc., it is important to be prepared for anything! The last thing you want to do is have to make someone leave to go run errands during your wedding.

Power + Lighting

What items require power? Market lighting? Audio and visual equipment? Cooking appliances? Check to see how much power your home can provide. If it isn’t reliable, or not enough, you’ll face power outages. Renting a generator provides peace of mind and you won’t find yourself running around trying to find the power box in the dark. Speaking of darkness, you want to make sure guests can see where they are going so you’ll need to look into the best lighting options. Chances are your porch light isn’t enough to properly light up the whole backyard. Market lighting is a great option, providing fun and efficient lighting for guests to dine and dance beneath. If market lighting isn’t your style and you want a more upscale look, uplighting is a great option. Hire a professional to install all lighting. They know what they’re doing!

Follow the Rules

The last thing you ever want to happen when hosting a backyard wedding is getting your party shut down. The first thing you need to do when you decide to have a backyard wedding is learn about the local laws regarding private events in residential areas. Are you part of an HOA that restricts events? Does the area that you live in allow you to host a wedding at your home? Is there a limit to how many guests you can host? Or how many events you can have per year? Do you need an event permit? These are just a few preliminary questions you will need to figure out right away. What is the noise ordinance for your area? Often this will be 10pm. That means amplified music needs to be turned off outside at this time otherwise anyone is free to call and report the excess noise to the police. Even if it is before that time, the police can still come by and tell you to turn down the music due to complaints. It can be helpful to have a decibel reader on hand to be aware of how loud the music really is. Did you rent a tent? If so you may have to jump through a few extra hoops regarding permits. The fire department may need to send someone out to approve the tent installation too. Even if you’re following all rules, another proactive measure is to notify neighbors of your event in advance. Let them know any relevant information that may affect their night like limitations on parking, noise, etc. It is especially important to tell them the timing of your ceremony so they aren’t mowing their lawn at that exact moment! If your neighbors are particularly difficult, you may want to butter them up with a nice bottle of wine or treats that they can enjoy that evening.

Insurance

Does your homeowner’s insurance policy cover hosting an event on your property? If not, you can obtain a special policy for the day of the event to protect yourself from liability.

Vendor Prep

Set up times for your vendors to walk through the space so that they know what’s what. What areas are off limits in the kitchen for the caterer? Do they need to prep everything and cook outside or will they have access to the full indoor kitchen. Provide instructions for any difficult appliances. Arranging a time when many vendors can be present is also helpful so you can answer each question only once, and they can work with each other to make sure everything goes smoothly. You’ll also need to coordinate timing for vendors to set up and strike. Staggering their arrival throughout the day will prevent an influx of vendors all arriving at the same time and trying to move everything down the driveway at the same time.

Who is responsible for the house?

If you’re hosting your wedding at your own home, who is there to watch the house while you’re partying the night away? You need a point person (not a guest) that can oversee everything to do with the house. After all, the last thing you want to do on your wedding day is restock toilet paper, or worse, unclog a toilet or clean up after a sick person. We recommend having two different key people there to help you. The first, a wedding coordinator who can help you with the logistics, timing and will work with vendors on your behalf. Second, you should also have a venue manager to handle all issues regarding the house.

Be prepared for Emergencies

Have a list of all emergency contacts ready to go. In addition to that list, it is also helpful to have instructions about the house written out for the house manager. Tell them where they can located the power box if needed, or how to work the lighting system in the house, or maybe how to get that door open that always seems to stick. Provide them with keys to rooms in case they need to get into a locked area. Provide them with a list of local stores in case they have to pick up some last minute materials.

Last Minute Prep

A few days before the big day, you will likely need to stop watering the lawn. The last thing you want is a muddy lawn and guests treading that gunk all over your freshly cleaned home. Turn off the sprinklers the night of the event. Once again, you really don’t want to have to deal with wet and uncomfortable guests. Clean out the fridge. Your caterer will probably need to use some of that space for ingredients, or maybe it can hold the cake so it doesn’t melt in the heat. Review everything again with your venue manager, wedding coordinator, and vendors to be sure there isn't anything that you've forgotten to do.

The Aftermath

The party is over! All is said and done and the last guest has just left your property. Now vendors are going to start cleaning up. Make sure they take all their trash with them at the end of the night or the next day. If you have flower arrangements leftover, you can donate them to a local nursing facility or hospital. Leftover food is unfortunately not able to be donated to shelters in most cases due to liability, but check with your caterer and local laws to see what can be done. Have a professional cleaning crew lined up to come in and clean up the house and yard afterward because chances are the last thing you want to do on your first day married is clean up after 150 guests. backyard wedding planning guide

Congratulations! You Did it!

New that the wedding fun is all over, you can jet off on that long anticipated honeymoon!

Your Turn…

Did we miss anything? Let us know your backyard wedding tips in the comments below!

Photo Credits: Foxes and Wolves