Having a backyard wedding can be an incredibly intimate and special event, that you and your family will treasure for years to come.
There are so many advantages that come with a backyard wedding. The first, is it can save you thousands of dollars because you won't have to book a venue! You will have to rent more supplies and vendors, but that cost will not outweigh the cost a traditional venue. It also gives you so much more flexibility with dates. Popular weddings dates are often booked at venues years in advance. Lastly, there are far less restrictions you'll have to follow. Traditional venues have a curfew, where all your guests have to leave by, some even charge a fee if you stay too late. At a backyard wedding, you can keep the party going so much later! If it is legal in your state, you also could take advantage of having a sparkler exit or fireworks at the end of the night! Many venues have strict policies against those fun affairs.
The first, and most important, aspect to consider about hosting a backyard wedding is the space. For your ceremony, what do you want as the background that will live forever in your wedding photos? Perhaps a scenic view of mountains, marshland by the ocean, or maybe even a flowering garden. Is there a large flat space behind that scenic spot where you can set up enough chairs for all the guests you plan to invite? The next area to consider is the reception space. You need another large flat open space to accommodate tables and chairs, serving areas for food, a bar, as well as a dance floor and space for a DJ or band. If you have the space for all that, then you can absolutely host a backyard wedding! Any other logistics can be solved with rentals and planning ahead.
When planning your wedding, the whole day is going to revolve around the time of your ceremony. Since this is most likely the first time a wedding has been hosted at this location, you will want to consider the lighting of your ceremony spot and the time of day the ceremony will take place. This is for both the enjoyment of your guests and the quality of your photos! More than likely, you will start planning the wedding more than a year in advance. If so, you have the perfect opportunity to see how the light will look in your ceremony location during the month and time of day of your ceremony. Try and get a good idea of how the sun will be hitting your ceremony site. If you are thinking of having the ceremony at 3 pm in June, go out to the ceremony location around 3 pm in June the year prior. Put yourself in the position your guests will be sitting, and then where you and your partner will be standing. Make sure your guests aren’t staring directly into the sun and the same goes for you two. You don’t want to be squinting in all your ceremony photos and you want your guests to be able to have a clear view of you. Sometimes all it takes it moving your ceremony time a couple hours earlier or later in the day. Maybe 4 pm in June is a better time to host the ceremony, and then build the timeline from there!
When hosting a backyard wedding, rentals are a must. Renting a tent always a great idea. This provides a backup plan incase of rain. If it ends up being a beautiful day, then you can dine outside under the stars! But if not, you have a safe comfortable place for your guests that can be somewhat temperature controlled. For hotter dates you can have fans in the tent, and for colder days you can have heaters. A tent also allows for your photographer to get quality pictures of your reception after dark. No one likes a flash pointed directly at their face. With a white tent, your photographer can bounce their flash off the ceiling of the tent, giving a sharp clean look to the images, without blinding anyone.
Other rentals you will have to consider is tables and place settings for the reception. You will need enough tables for all your guests, as well as tables for caterers, a desert table, gift table, and perhaps even some standing tables for mingling. Then of course you need enough chairs. To save money, the same chairs can be used for both the ceremony and the reception. You will need to rent dinner plates, dessert plates, silverware, as well as serving utensils. Don't forget a knife and server for the cake! See if the catering company you choose includes serving plates in their packages. You will want a variety of glassware as well, water glasses, wine glasses, champagne flutes, rocks glasses, highball glasses, and even coffee mugs. Talk to the bartending service you higher beforehand and see if they include any glassware in their packages. Linens and napkins will be another rental you might want to consider. There are a variety of price and color options available. Another great perk of hosting a backyard wedding is that you can choose any color scheme or aesthetic you want for your table settings, without having to worry about matching the colors or look of the venue!
Other rentals you may not have considered include lighting, a generator, and even bathrooms. More likely than not, your reception is going to go far past sunset. You will want to make sure you have ample lighting for the reception. Some options include string lights, fairy lights, led candles on tables, or even lanterns. You will also be using so much extra power to host the event (caterers, lighting, DJ, etc), you may want to consider renting an event generator for extra power, so you don't blow a fuse. One of the less glamorous aspects, but a very important one to consider is the bathroom set up. Renting a portable bathroom is the best option. You want all your guests to have easy access, and you want to limit foot traffic into the house on the property. There are many portable bathrooms that are specifically designed for events like weddings. Many include multiple stalls, flushing toilets, hot and cold water sinks, and are even quite spacious.
Since you are hosting your own event, you will need to hire more vendors. Food vendors are a must. You will not want any family members to be worrying about cooking or serving food on your wedding day. The most common choice is to hire a catering company. A cheaper and unique alternative is to hire food trucks! A bartender is also important. You can hire a single bar tender or a bartending service. When hiring a single bar tender you have to supply all the equipment, coolers, mixers, and glassware. When hiring a full service bartending company they supply both the bartenders and all the mixing equipment, ice, coolers, glassware, and drink mixers. A fun wedding bar service I loved was The Roaming Speakeasy, a vintage style, mobile bar available in the New England area!
The last thing to consider for your event is parking. If you have another large grassy area for guests to park in thats great! If not there are other options. If you aren't having a large guest count and street parking is accessible in your area, that is an option. If there is a nearby public lot, you can have guests park there and then hire busses or trolleys to shuttle guests to and from those lots. You will want to make sure you have multiple rounds of shuttles to accommodate both your guests that would like to leave the celebration a little early, and the ones that want to stay late. Or you can hire a valet service to park the cars for your guests at a nearby lot. This is on the more pricey end, but allows guests to leave at their own convenience.
Planning a backyard wedding is definitely a lot of work, but it is so worth it. You have the freedom and flexibility to create a magically intimate and special day that is uniquely your own.